Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Emil Frei Dies

Emil Frei, an oncologist who worked at the National Cancer Institute, the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, has died, the New York Times reports. He was 89. The Times notes that, in the mid-1950s, Frei was among the first to promote the use of combination chemotherapy.

Frei, his colleague Emil Freireich at NCI, and others studied the use of multiple chemotherapy agents to treat pediatric leukemia. They found that, in combination, they could use less of each drug, limiting the toxic effects of the drugs on patients, but better attacking the cancer. Among the patients Frei treated was Edward M. Kennedy, Jr., who had osteosarcoma.

Further, the Times notes that in his book, The Emperor of All Maladies, physician and author Siddhartha Mukherjee called Frei a "charming" physician. "To watch him manage critically ill children and their testy, nervous parents was to watch a champion swimmer glide through water — so adept in the art that he made artistry vanish," Mukherjee wrote.