The Baltimore Sun


Noted cancer researcher

Dr. I. Bernard Weinstein, a researcher and top administrator at Columbia University who advanced the study of how pollutants and other environmental factors can cause cancer, died Nov. 3 in Manhattan, where he lived. He was 78. The cause was kidney disease, his family said.

At Columbia, where he headed the Comprehensive Cancer Center from 1985 to 1996, Dr. Weinstein investigated chemical sources of cancer and how cancers can progress in stages and over time at the molecular and cellular levels.

A former student, Dr. Richard Axel, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2004, said that as early as the 1970s, Dr. Weinstein had made an important connection in recognizing that carcinogens in the environment would most likely have molecular targets in the body.

Dr. Weinstein and others investigated the cancer-causing properties of a common chemical, benzo(a)pyrene, which is found in tobacco smoke, car exhaust and charbroiled foods. He later studied cancers related to the class of compounds called nitrosamines, which are used in processed meats and pickled food products.

Dr. Axel, now a professor of biochemistry, molecular biophysics and pathology at Columbia, said, "Bernard Weinstein's knowledge of emerging molecular genetics was combined with his research on the chemical causes of cancer to help in the creation of a new field, the field of molecular epidemiology."

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