On rare occasion, an innovator makes such a profound impact on the world that people thereafter cannot imagine what life was like before that transformation. Paradoxically, for those not witness to such an achievement, this phenomenon may have, in terms of legacy, a blunting effect.
For example, those of us who work in modern cancer centers, especially those who grew up professionally in such environments, might assume automatically that these organizations always existed in something like their present form. But this is not the case. Indeed, cancer centers as they now are, melding high-quality care with superb clinical and laboratory investigations, owe much of their invention to the vision, energy, and pugnacious perseverance of Paul A. Marks.
We lost Paul on April 28, 2020, at age 93, when he died of pulmonary fibrosis complicated, at the end, by lung cancer. His professional accomplishments and long list of accolades and awards is well known to the entire oncology community.
He was born in rural Pennsylvania, but spent formative years in Brooklyn, where his prodigious intelligence and legendary work ethic earned him a full scholarship to Columbia University. This led to his medical training at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.