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In Memoriam: Elaine Ron, Senior Investigator in DCEG

Posted Nov 30 2010 12:00am

In Memoriam: Elaine Ron, Senior Investigator in DCEG

Dr. Elaine RonDr. Elaine Ron

Dr. Elaine Ron, a senior investigator in NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG), died of cancer on November 20 at her home in Bethesda, MD. She was 67.

Dr. Ron was renowned as one of the leading experts in radiation epidemiology and in the causes of thyroid cancer, as well as a champion of women in science. Over the course of her career she authored more than 200 scientific peer-reviewed papers and mentored researchers from around the world.  She leaves as a legacy numerous junior investigators who were inspired by her example. 

Dr. Ron conducted groundbreaking research. In her earliest work, in Israel, she identified the long-term cancer risk associated with radiation treatment for tinea capitis (a fungal infection of the scalp). Dr. Ron joined NCI in 1986 and served as chief of the Radiation Epidemiology Branch from 1997 to 2002.  She participated in numerous international committees, including the International Commission on Radiological Protection, the Scientific Council of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the Public Health Committee of the American Thyroid Association.  

“Elaine contributed enormously to our understanding of the cancer risks associated with radiation,” reflected Dr. Joseph F. Fraumeni, Jr., director of DCEG. “Her interests included studies of the atomic bomb survivors in Japan, residents of the former Soviet Union exposed to radioactive compounds from the Chernobyl accident, and patients exposed to diagnostic and therapeutic radiation. In addition to addressing the biological mechanisms of disease, Dr. Ron was keenly focused on public health and policy implications of her research.”

Her scientific achievements included the largest study of cancer risks among patients treated with radioactive iodine for hyperthyroidism and the first international effort to pool epidemiologic data on thyroid cancer.  She had recently launched a major investigation into the potential adverse effects of CT screening among children and young adults.

Dr. Shelia Hoar Zahm, deputy director of DCEG, noted, “Elaine was passionate about fighting injustice.  Whether it was promoting equity for women scientists at work, preventing cruelty to animals, or advancing human rights around the globe, she refused to accept the status quo.” 
Dr. Ron is survived by her son, Ariel Ron, her greatest joy.

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