Thomas A. Waldmann, MD, a leader in the field of immunology, died September 25, 2021, at the age of 91.
Born September 21, 1930, Waldmann graduated from the University of Chicago in 1951. He received his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1955 and continued his training at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1956, he became a clinical associate at the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI). He became chief of the Metabolism Branch of the NCI in 1971. At the time of his death, Waldmann was chief emeritus of the Lymphoid Malignancies Branch and NIH Distinguished Investigator.
Waldmann’s pioneering research on cytokines, cytokine receptors, and monoclonal antibodies extended from the laboratory to the clinic and contributed to advances in the fields of cancer treatment, autoimmune diseases, and organ transplantation. His landmark studies included the characterization of the interleukin-2 receptor and its role in the growth, differentiation, and regulation of normal and neoplastic T cells. He also codiscovered interleukin-15 and elucidated its role in the development of NK and memory CD8 T cells. Earlier in his career, Waldmann studied serum protein metabolism and identified a rare disorder of the gastrointestinal tract now known as Waldmann’s disease.
Waldmann mentored countless scientists during his long and distinguished career. He published more than 880 papers, including 22 papers in the year before he died.
A member of the AACR since 1987, Waldmann was a member of AACR’s Cancer Immunology Working Group. He was also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of the Medical Sciences (UK). He received innumerable honors, including the Health and Human Services Career Achievement Award, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research, the Paul Ehrlich Medal, the Abbott Laboratory Prize in Clinical Diagnostic Immunology, the AAI-Steinman Award for Human Immunology Research, the Milken Family Foundation Distinguished Basic Scientist Award, the Artois-Baillet Latour Health Prize, and the Service to America Career Achievement Award.
Leave your remembrance of Dr. Waldmann below.
Tom introduced me to Immunology and IL-15. It was a privilege to have him as a mentor and hear him talk. Just some months ago I saw him at cytokine virtual workshop. He was truly passionate about his work and sharing knowledge. Thank you Tom.