We remember the life of Professor John Goldman, a world expert in stem cell transplants for leukaemia whose work transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of blood cancer patients worldwide.
Professor John Goldman, a leading figure in the global fight against blood cancer, has died from cancer of the bile duct after a short illness, aged 75.
Born on 30 November 1938, Goldman played a leading international role in the development of ground-breaking curative treatments for blood cancers such as leukaemia. His work has led to the development of new drug and bone marrow transplant therapies, which have saved hundreds of thousands of lives from blood cancer.
As our first Medical Director, Goldman joined the charity in 1988 where he stayed for over two decades, playing a pivotal role in the development of unrelated donor stem cell transplantation in the UK and internationally. He was later asked to become a trustee of Anthony Nolan, a role he carried out with diligence and passion.
As a result of his visionary and unstinting work, much of which was performed in a climate of professional and establishment scepticism or opposition, Professor Goldman helped Anthony Nolan grow from a small operation run from a Portakabin to a large and ambitious charity, which now facilitates stem cell transplants for more than 1,000 patients a year.
Not only was Goldman instrumental in the progress within Anthony Nolan (the first stem cell register in the world), he also established the World Marrow Donor Association in 1990. The international network of registries of unrelated donors now comprises over 20 million potential donors in six continents. More recently, Goldman worked to support the establishment of registries in less wealthy countries in Asia, Africa and South America, as patients in those countries find it harder to find matches and have worse outcomes.
His later work in improving tissue typing technologies and transplant practice resulted in dramatic improvements in unrelated donor transplants so that, today, patient outcomes are equivalent to those achievable using a matched sibling donor.
Simon Dyson, Chairman of Anthony Nolan, said: “Professor John Goldman was the inspiration behind bone marrow transplantation, with unrelated donors becoming accepted as a legitimate treatment for blood cancers. He also played a major role in the development of Anthony Nolan, not only by expanding the size and quality of its register of donors, but also by setting up the Research Institute where Anthony Nolan’s scientific research is now respected worldwide. There is no doubt that without John, many hundreds of patients would not be alive today and the world owes him an enormous debt of gratitude.”
Henny Braund, Chief Executive of Anthony Nolan, added: “It has been a privilege and an inspiration to work with Professor Goldman, whose tireless advocacy, unflinching honesty and capacity for clinical innovation have resulted in unrelated donor transplants becoming the international standard of care for patients who lack a sibling donor. His remarkable vision will continue to drive our work at Anthony Nolan, as we aim to save the lives of everyone who needs a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and worked with him.”