Obituary: Todd H. Wasserman, MD, professor emeritus, 66

Todd H. Wasserman, MD, professor emeritus of radiation oncology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, died Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, after a long illness. He was 66.

Over a medical career that spanned more than three decades, Wasserman made important contributions to the field of radiation oncology. His research focused on the interactions between chemotherapy and radiation treatment and drugs that make cancer cells more vulnerable to radiation therapy. He published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles, editorials and book chapters on these topics. His clinical focus included lymphoma and myeloma, both cancers of white blood cells.


“Todd provided great service and devotion to his patients, the Department of Radiation Oncology and to Washington University School of Medicine throughout his long career,” says Dennis E. Hallahan, MD, the Elizabeth H. and James S. McDonnell III Distinguished Professor and head of the Department of Radiation Oncology. “Todd and his extraordinary contributions to the university will be sorely missed.”

Wasserman earned undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Rochester. He later trained in radiation oncology at the National Cancer Institute and the University of California, San Francisco. He joined the faculty of Washington University School of Medicine in 1979. Two years later, he helped found the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Jewish Hospital of St. Louis, which he chaired from 1983 to 1995, before the merger with Barnes Hospital. In 2011, he became an emeritus professor.

Wasserman began the “Celebration of Life” event in 1989 and later chaired seven of the biannual gatherings of cancer survivors and their caregivers. The event highlights the fact that people can beat cancer and go on to lead active and productive lives.

Wasserman also held many leadership positions in the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), a national research cooperative of investigators funded by the National Cancer Institute to improve survival and quality of life for patients diagnosed with cancer. He chaired committees on quality of life, corporate relations and, more recently, served as co-chair of the RTOG Foundation.

Wasserman is survived by his wife, Patti; mother, Ruth Wasserman; daughter, Amy Wasserman (Jonathan Levin); son, Derek Wasserman; a grandson; a sister; a brother; stepchildren Jenifer Feldman (Jonathan) and Andy Goldin (Carrie) and their four children.

A service was held Jan. 27 in New York.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Todd Wasserman Lectureship, care of Pam Morris, executive director of development for clinical programs at Washington University School of Medicine, Medical Alumni and Development Office, Suite 2100, 7425 Forsyth Blvd., St. Louis, Mo. 63105.