publication date: Nov. 13, 2020
David A. Ahlquist, pioneer of cancer screening, dies at 69
With unwavering positivity and unquenchable curiosity, David A. Ahlquist, MD, turned complex challenges into addressable opportunities, and audacious ideas into achievable realities.
Dr. Ahlquist, who died Nov. 1 due to complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, was a visionary leader, compassionate clinician, dedicated mentor, and tireless innovator. He dedicated his research to meaningful change in the prevention and early detection of cancer, recognizing profound opportunities in unexpected places. He was 69.
Dave’s long list of accolades includes Investigator of the Year and Distinguished Inventor Awards from Mayo Clinic, the William Beaumont Prize for practice impact from the American Gastroenterology Association and Fellowship in the National Academy of Inventors.
His scholarly productivity includes more than 25 years of continuous funding from NIH, more than 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters, and over 80 issued patents. Dave mentored over 40 trainees, and further served the Mayo Clinic community through innumerable clinical, educational and research leadership positions, including directing the GI Fellowship program, the GI Endoscopy unit, and the GI Neoplasia clinic, before taking on broader leadership roles at the institutional level, including president of the alumni association, president of the staff, and director of the Department of Development.
He was masterful in building meaningful relationships, inside and outside of Mayo Clinic, that celebrated diversity in the collective approach to achieve common goals.
Dr. Ahlquist’s professional career was guided by his north star of reducing the cancer burden, fueled by his creativity, humility, and mission-driven entrepreneurialism. As a gastroenterologist, Dave was convinced that the biggest impact he could make on colorectal cancer was through improved early detection.
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