In memoriam: Jan van Eys
Jan van Eys, a physician–scientist who pioneered the use of chemotherapy as a primary intervention for pediatric brain tumors, died Sept. 24 at the age of 93. He joined the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1960 and was a member for more than 60 years.
Born January 25, 1929 in the Netherlands, van Eys immigrated to the United States in 1951 after living through World War II and German occupation. In an interview with the University Club of Nashville in 2018, he said he came to the U.S. because he was “young, adventuresome and rebellious” and wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Vanderbilt University, which he earned in 1955. He also completed his postdoctoral training at Vanderbilt while researching enzymology and metabolic regulation. He went on to earn an M.D. from the University of Washington in 1966.
As a physician–scientist at Vanderbilt, van Eys established a pediatric hemophilia and hematology specialty and completed foundational research on pyruvate kinase deficiency and hemophilia. In 1973, he moved to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and became the chair of pediatrics, making substantial contributions to the field of pediatric oncology. After retiring in 1994, he continued to teach ethics courses to medical and graduate students.
van Eys was a member of the institutional review boards at Vanderbilt University and Centerstone, a national health system that provides mental health and substance use disorder treatments. He was also a member of the board of the Tennessee Hemophilia and Bleeding Disorder Foundation and the board of the National Hemophilia Foundation.
He is survived by his partner, Judith Hodges; daughter, Dickey Catherine van Eys Fuchs; son, Jan Peter van Eys, and his wife, Patti; three grandsons; and two great-granddaughters.
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