Clear Search

BCRF Mourns Loss of a Giant in the Field

By BCRF | October 13, 2021

Dr. Joseph Bertino leaves behind a legacy in pharmacology, patient care, and mentorship

It is with sadness that BCRF shares news of the passing of our friend, colleague, and BCRF investigator Dr. Joseph R. Bertino. Joe, as many of us knew him, devoted his life to improving therapies for cancer over his 60-year career and was a pioneer who helped establish the foundation of modern cancer research.

As a medical oncologist, Dr. Bertino treated thousands of patients with lymphoma and other blood cancers, while at the same time trying to unlock the mysteries of these diseases through research. In 2018, the American Association for Cancer Research honored Dr. Bertino with its Lifetime Achievement Award for his collective body of work and his significant contributions to cancer research. Dr. Bertino’s BCRF-supported research involved investigating novel antibody drug conjugates to combat triple-negative breast cancers.

BCRF’s Founding Scientific Director Dr. Larry Norton described Dr. Bertino as “a giant of our field.”

“Not only as a brilliant scientist who pioneered many of our current medicinal approaches to cancer therapy, but as a teacher, mentor, leader of international organizations, and beloved friend to colleagues throughout the world,” Dr. Norton said.  

BCRF investigator Dr. Bruce Haffty, reflected on Dr. Bertino as a longtime mentor.

“I have known Joe since I was a second-year medical student at Yale, where he was one of my professors in our pharmacology course,” Dr. Haffty said. “He served as an inspiration and mentor to me—as he did for so many others—during my early years at Yale before he moved on to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Joe moved from MSKCC to Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and I was thrilled when I arrived in New Jersey to again have Joe there as an inspiration, collaborator, mentor, and friend. He will be sorely missed.”

BCRF joins the cancer research community in mourning Dr. Bertino’s passing and extends condolences to his family, loved ones, and close colleagues