It is with great sadness that we share the news that Arthur Schatzkin, MD, Dr. P.H., principal investigator of the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, passed away on January 20, 2011 from cancer. Dr. Schatzkin was Chief of the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and was an internationally renowned expert in the field of nutrition and cancer.
Dr. Schatzkin was committed to understanding the role of nutrition and its effects on cancers and cancer prevention. Early in his career, he was the first to describe the relation between moderate alcohol intake and breast cancer risk. He then turned his attention to the role of diet in preventing colorectal cancer. He led the landmark NCI Polyp Prevention Trial, a 4-year randomized trial which successfully achieved a low-fat, high-fiber diet and then showed that this intervention, contrary to the prevailing hypothesis, had no effect on adenoma recurrence.
Most notably, he conceived and launched the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study, in which you have been a participant since 1995-1996. Research from this long-term study of approximately 500,000 AARP members has produced over 150 original scientific papers regarding the effects of many lifestyle factors on risk of death as well as development of different types of cancers. Dr. Schatzkin also devoted his efforts to improving the accuracy of collection of questionnaire information on diet and physical activity and supported the development of new web-based methods to measure these factors.
Throughout his career, Dr. Schatzkin was an outstanding scientist, mentor, and leader in the field of nutritional epidemiology. He was a gifted public speaker and a man of personal and professional integrity who cared deeply about the impact of his work on public health. Even beyond his diagnosis, Dr. Schatzkin remained committed to his work and involved in research planning, mentoring, and senior scientific discussions. He will be deeply missed.