Cathy Gilman
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Remembering Professor John Goldman

Cathy Gilman
Posted by
15 Jan 2014

Our belief at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is that life is a gift to be used wisely and lived fiercely and this certainly embodied the way in which Professor John Goldman, who sadly passed away on Christmas Eve, lived his life.

John had been involved with Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research from the early years of our charity and received his first research grant from LLR in 1971. Over the next 30 years as an investigator at Imperial College London, he received a further 19 awards to a total value in excess of £2million, which is an indication of the way in which he seamlessly managed a very active research portfolio with a selfless dedication to his patients.

Our Research Director, Chris Bunce, is in no doubt that Professor Goldman “played a formative role in academic haematology both in the UK and internationally” and for Chris he will be most remembered for “never accepting that something is impossible”.

There are very many examples of this in John’s career, but his direct involvement in the transformation in the outlook for patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) in his lifetime must be notable. Professor Charlie Craddock who was trained at the hands of John, describes John as “Druker’s right hand man”. In case the name is unfamiliar Brian Druker was instrumental in the development of the drug called Imatinib which has transformed CML survival to now near normal life expectancy in little more than a decade. It was John who played an integral role in accelerating the passage of the science to the clinic, a role of such importance that he was recently noted in the Pulitzer-winning book “The Emperor of All Maladies” by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

John’s vision to push forward improvements for patients was always grounded in first class science and as a consequence he had valuable roles to play in many organisations, as the Chairman of Leuka, as Anthony Nolan’s Medical Director and in many roles at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, latterly as the Chairman of the Trials Acceleration Programme Steering Committee to name but a few.  We were privileged that he was able to be part of the unprecedented change in the delivery of clinical trials for blood cancer patients in the UK and to see the recruitment in to the first trials before his untimely death. We were able to celebrate John’s life with a moving tribute made by Charlie Craddock at our meeting with the Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) community on Friday, who told us of his love of Shakespeare and his dogged determination to support junior clinicians and women in medicine.

It is clear from the many tributes to John that he was revered by his patients and admired and valued as a mentor by his peers and junior colleagues. For Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research we will be ever grateful for his generosity of time and spirit in supporting and promoting our work and the way in which he has contributed in so many ways to our vision to beat blood cancers. A life lived wisely and fiercely.

John was also a very private person, his family have created a tribute page “Remembering John” where donations can be made in his memory for his charity Leuka.