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NIH Record


NCI Mourns Lloyd Law

By Beverly Mock

Dr. Lloyd W. Law died Oct. 20 at his home in Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg, one week short of his 92nd birthday. His outstanding scientific career spanned over five decades, including more than 40 years at the National Cancer Institute.

He was a graduate of the University of Illinois, and he earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biology from Harvard University. In 1947, Law began working at NCI, and from 1970 to 1989 he served as chief of the Laboratory of Cell Biology. In 1990, he became scientist emeritus and was a frequent visitor to the lab for the next 10 years.

He was born in Ford City, Pa., and worked as a high school teacher in Illinois before entering graduate school. His pioneering work on the origins and treatment of cancer began at the Jackson Memorial Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Me. where Law worked from 1938 to 1947, interrupted by 4 years as pilot instructor for high-altitude flyers for the Army Air Corps during World War II.

Arriving at NIH, he headed a leukemia studies section. He made extensive use of transplantable and cultured mouse leukemia lines for testing of drugs, including folic acid antagonists and anti-metabolites. His use of these tumor models made possible his important contribution to the cure of childhood leukemia with the simultaneous use of combinations of different types of chemotherapeutic drugs.

In the 1950's and 1960's, he collaborated with NCI clinicians, including Drs. Emil Frei and Emil Freireich, to apply the experimental results to treatment of Clinical Center patients, with resounding success. In addition, his scientific program made seminal discoveries on the importance of the thymus and bone marrow in leukemia and lymphoma.

For his pioneering work, Law was awarded a number of honors, including the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award and the G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award from the American Association for Cancer Research, which he served as president from 1967 to 1968; and the Meritorious Service and Distinguished Service Awards from the Public Health Service, in which he served as commissioned officer for much of his career. He was the G.B. Mider lecturer at NIH in 1970. On the occasion of Law's 90th birthday, a symposium on the "Origins of Combination Chemotherapy" was held in the Cloister at NIH, and the Lloyd W. Law Library for Cancer Research was dedicated in Bldg. 37.

Law's wife, Bernette, died of cancer in 1976; he is survived by two sons and four grandchildren.

Although it was well-known that he never missed major league baseball's spring training in Florida, not everyone knew that he had been an accomplished baseball player in his youth, winning an athletic scholarship to college and enjoying a short-lived career in minor league baseball. Many are fortunate that Law traded his passion for playing baseball for a career in medical science.

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