publication date: Oct. 25, 2019


Bernard Fisher, pioneering breast cancer researcher, dies at 101

By Paul Goldberg

Bernard Fisher, a surgeon and clinical trialist who revolutionized the field of breast cancer research and all but eliminated reliance on disfiguring surgeries, died Oct. 16 at the age of 101.

At the time of his death, Fisher was the Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

“The world has lost a great man. Dr. Bernard Fisher, a courageous surgeon who almost single-handedly, over great resistance, changed the paradigm of breast cancer treatment from brutish to the more compassionate and successful treatment of today leading to reduction in mortality and morbidity,” Vincent DeVita, a former NCI Director and the Amy and Joseph Perella Professor of Medicine and Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Yale School of Medicine, wrote on Facebook. “And I have lost a great friend. Rest well Bernie. There is a very large chorus of angels waiting for you.”

Fisher was a Pittsburgh native, born to Anna and Reuben Fisher. 

He earned a Bachelor of Science in 1940 and an MD in 1943 at the University of Pittsburgh. Following training as a surgeon, he joined the Pitt faculty as its first full-time member of the Department of Surgery. In 1953, he established the first Laboratory of Surgical Research at the University.

Early in his career, Fisher contributed to the development of both transplantation and vascular surgery, performing the first kidney transplant in Pittsburgh in 1964 and directing surgical research at Pitt in liver regeneration, transplant rejection, and hypothermia.

The focus of Fisher’s career shifted shifted in 1958, when his mentor … Continue reading Bernard Fisher, pioneering breast cancer researcher, dies at 101

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