Lynch Syndrome Researcher Albert de la Chapelle, MD, PhD 1933-2020
The Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital regrets to announce the passing of Albert de la Chapelle, MD, PhD, on Dec. 10 at the age of 87. Dr. de la Chapelle was a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Cancer Biology and Genetics at Ohio State who played a key role in developing and leading the university’s human cancer genetics program to great prominence after being recruited to OSU from the University of Helsinki in 1997.
According to OSUCCC’s official announcement, one of Dr. de la Chapelle’s most important achievements in cancer genetics was helping to identify and map four genes (mismatch repair genes) that cause Lynch syndrome (LS), an inherited disorder that makes certain families susceptible to colorectal cancer as well as endometrial cancer. By discerning that this susceptibility results from a damaged cell’s inability to repair its DNA, he discovered a new cancer-causing mechanism.
After arriving at Ohio State, Dr. de la Chapelle not only led the human cancer genetics program for the OSUCCC – James but also mentored numerous students and continued his own groundbreaking basic research on molecular causes of cancer. His laboratory focus was on the mapping, cloning and characterization of high- and low-penetrance genes for cancer predisposition.
In March 2020 Dr. de la Chapelle was preceded in death by his wife Clara D. Bloomfield, MD, who was also a Distinguished University Professor who for many years served as cancer scholar and senior adviser to Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).
In a joint statement by Raphael E. Pollock, MD, PhD, FACS, Director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and William B. Farrar, MD, Chief Executive Officer of James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, the authors noted, “With Dr. de la Chapelle’s passing, the world has lost another of its most renowned medical scientists, a pioneer in the field of human cancer genetics whose work, which spanned more than half a century and included over 800 publications in prestigious scientific journals, led to important seminal discoveries about the molecular and genetic nature of cancer, setting the stage for the development of innovative treatments.”