Lee Wattenberg, emeritus professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center, died Dec. 9, 2014 at the age of 92.
His research established the discipline of chemoprevention. Wattenberg first recognized that some compounds could effectively block the development of carcinogens in animals. In 1966, he published a paper in the journal Cancer Research that reviewed 36 years of animal studies on the effects of certain compounds on carcinogenesis and laid the framework for our understanding of how these compounds work. It was in this paper that he introduced the term chemoprophylaxis.
He later investigated two categories of chemopreventive agents: synthetic compounds that might prevent carcinogen-induced lung cancer, and dietary constituents, such as the cruciferous plants cabbage and broccoli. He studied the processes that cause irreversibility in carcinogenesis and sought to determine whether and how these processes could be targeted for intervention. Also, most recently, Wattenberg pioneered the use of aerosols to deliver drugs in lung cancer.