Pediatric Hematologist-Oncologist Arthur Ablin Dies

Emeritus Professor Arthur Ablin, MD, a pioneer in the field of pediatric hematology-oncology and tireless supporter of UCSF Family House, has died after a brief illness.

Ablin received his medical degree from the University of Michigan and completed residency training in Michigan and at UCSF. As a member of the UCSF faculty, Ablin joined colleagues Seymour Zoger, MD, and Joseph Kuschner, MD, in developing a clinical oncology program for pediatric patients. With the support of hematologists William Mentzer, MD, and Peter Dallman, MD, the program ultimately grew into the renowned UCSF Division of Hematology/Oncology.

A highly accomplished clinical investigator, Ablin helped organize the Children’s Cancer Study Group (CCSG; now COG) and contributed to many of the remarkable advances in pediatrics cancer treatment from the 1960s through the 1990s. He was one of the first investigators to appreciate and grapple with the adverse late health effects of chemotherapy and radiation and organized the UCSF Survivors of Childhood Cancer Program.

Pediatric cancer care was a bleak discipline when Ablin began his career, and most young patients died. The experience of supporting families through tragic loss helped inspire Ablin’s long-lasting interest in palliative care. It also impressed upon him the importance of a supportive environment for families during treatment. To meet that need, Ablin and his wife, Debbie, founded Family House across the street from the hospital in 1981. In 2016, thanks in large part to Ablin’s efforts, the organization moved to the Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House, an 80-bedroom facility near the new Mission Bay location of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. In addition to his efforts on behalf of Family House, Dr. Ablin partnered with the Frank A. Camipini Foundation to raise funds to support the training and career development of young investigators in pediatric cancer, and he established the Deborah and Arthur Ablin Professorship in Pediatric Molecular Oncology.

“Art was one of the giants who played a key role in laying the foundation for the great Department of Pediatrics we are today,” said Interim Chief of Pediatrics Kevin Shannon, MD. “But he was, first and foremost, an exceptional physician who cared deeply about his patients and their families.” Read more from Dr. Shannon ...