Yesterday, I received a succession of phone calls through the afternoon and evening—from Roy Herbst, chief of medical oncology at the Yale Cancer Center, Marge Foti, president of the American Association for Cancer Research, Patrick Hwu, head of the Division of Cancer Medicine at the MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC), and Otis Brawley, professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins University.

They all wanted to know if I had heard the terrible and unexpected news that Waun Ki Hong had passed away—and to check that I was OK. In circumstances like this, OK is a relative term, but my first thoughts are with the man himself and his family. And what a man he was.

Waun Ki Hong’s contributions to medicine changed the field as we know it. Partnering with Gregory Wolf at the Boston VA Medical Center, he led the first major larynx preservation study, which opened the door to his pioneering work on the clinical chemoprevention of cancer.