Villejuif, May 3rd, 2018
Death of Professor Thomas Tursz
The General Directorate and all Gustave Roussy's teams learned with an immense sorrow the death of Professor Thomas Tursz on April 27th, 2018 at the age of 71. Professor Tursz was an eminent oncologist and researcher. He directed Gustave Roussy over a period of 16 years. He made major contributions to the development of immunotherapy, cancer gene therapy and precision cancer medicine. He also had a significant input in the field of Epstein-Barr virus research, especially regarding virus recognition by the immune system and its oncogenic role.
“I shall make IGR a place of hope”, promised Professor Tursz when he became head of the Institute. His vision of how oncology patients should be treated was one of personalised medicine based on research led by multidisciplinary teams using advanced techniques and, above all, adapted to the individual patient.
He was General Director of Gustave Roussy from 1994 to 2010 and Honorary Director from 2010, Emeritus Professor of Oncology in the Paris-Sud University Medical Faculty and President of Unicancer from 2004 to 2010. He was born in Cracow in 1946 and led a distinguished career as a great physician and researcher. He was a pioneer in the use of novel therapeutic strategies in oncology, such as, for example, that of cytokine-based immunotherapy.
His work was recognised by the award of the highest distinctions in medicine and oncology. In 1988 he received the Academy of Sciences Oncology Prize and, in 1992, its Prize for Medicine. He received several prizes for his research work and a number of the most coveted European prizes, including the Hamilton Fairley Award for Clinical Research in 1998. He published more than three hundred scientific articles in leading international journals.
By training numerous students, he passed on his knowledge to a whole future generation of oncologists.
Professor Tursz was conscious of the need to inform the wider public, which he did through two books: “The Medical Revolution” in 2003 and “New Cancer Medicine, History and Hope” in 2013.
He thoroughly modernised Gustave Roussy, making it the leading European cancer centre. He was determined to invest in the long-term and, in particular, established a department devoted to supportive care and another to outpatient treatment, which both remain a reference point in the movement towards supportive care and ambulatory care becoming crucial in oncology.
He was awarded the honour of Officer of the Legion of Honour.
The General Directorate of Gustave Roussy acknowledges this great medical researcher with the highest respect and deep feelings. At this sad time, our thoughts are turned to his wife, son, family, friends and all those who knew him well at Gustave Roussy.
Thomas Tursz dedicated his life to other people's hope, health and wellness; and we deeply thank him for this and for showing us the way.