Former Professor of Radiation Oncology
The UNC Department of Radiation Oncology was saddened to learn of the passing of one of its founding faculty members, Professor Emeritus Dr. James Raleigh. Dr. Raleigh served as the first Head of the (then) Division of Molecular Radiobiology (now the Division of Cancer Biology), arriving at UNC in 1988 from the University of Alberta’s Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He retired from UNC in 2008.
Dr. Raleigh’s key contribution to the field of radiation oncology was the development, preclinical testing, and ultimately, use in cancer patients, of a drug that marked the presence of tumor hypoxia (regions in tumors low in oxygen). Hypoxia can make tumors more resistant to radiation and chemotherapy, so being aware of its presence before treatment can be helpful in personalizing a patient’s treatment plan. Dr. Raleigh’s “hypoxia markers” have since been commercialized, and are used world-wide, not only in studies of tumor hypoxia as it relates to radiation therapy, but also in other human diseases where poor oxygenation is thought to play a role, such as cirrhosis of the liver or myocardial infarction.
Jim was a colleague, mentor and friend to many people in the Department, as well as in the broader UNC, national, and international cancer research communities. He was a kind, modest and gentle man who will be greatly missed.