Albert H. Owens Jr., MD, inaugural director of the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center in Baltimore, died January 13, 2017, at the age of 90.
Owens joined the AACR in 1970 and was an emeritus member, having served on the AACR board of directors (1984-1987) and as associate editor of Cancer Research (1976-1986). He also appeared on the cover of the May 15, 1990, issue of Cancer Research.
Owens is credited with a leadership role in developing oncology as a scientific discipline and clinical specialty. He joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1956, working in liver metabolism research. In 1957, Dr. A. McGehee Harvey, head of the medical school’s Department of Medicine, appointed Owens head of the newly created cancer research and treatment division within the department. In 1961, Owens opened Johns Hopkins’s first cancer chemotherapy unit at Baltimore City Hospitals (now known as Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center), which was one of the first university-based centers of its kind.
In 1973, Owens was named first director of the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, which was designated by the National Cancer Institute as one of the nation’s first comprehensive cancer centers. He moved his work to a new oncology center in 1977, which is now the much expanded Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.
Owens was named president of Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1987, and relinquished his post 18 months later in order to continue his work fighting cancer. The hospital became smoke-free under his tenure.
Born on Staten Island, New York, Owens graduated from Johns Hopkins and served as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.
In addition to his involvement in the AACR, Owens was a past president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Association of American Cancer Institutes, and the Maryland division of the American Cancer Society.