Henry Lynch, who studied familial susceptibility to cancer, has died, the ASCO Connection reports. He was 91.
Lynch, who was a professor at Creighton University School of Medicine, began studying genetic causes of nonpolyposis colon cancer in the 1960s, a time when cancer was largely thought not to be hereditary, KETV in Omaha reports. He first identified what's now known as Lynch syndrome around that time. "Nobody believed me," he once told the station. "At that time, cancer was all thought to be caused by environment. Exposure to chemicals. But I knew we had something here. I knew we could potentially save lives."
In addition to uncovering Lynch syndrome — which KETV notes has enabled earlier disease detection and treatment for patients — Lynch was also the first to recognize that there was a hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome, which then led to the discovery of the BRCA mutations.
"He will be remembered for these incredible discoveries, which laid the foundation for our modern era of precision medicine," the ASCO Connection adds.