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November 28, 2014

U of M cancer research leader loses battle with melanoma

A young, pioneering Univerity of Minnesota cancer researcher lost his own battle with melanoma at the age of 35, MPR reports.

John Ohlfest, Ph.D., was focusing on vaccine treatments for several types of recurrent brain tumors before his death.

Ohlfest made headlines in 2008 when he partnered with veterinary neurosurgeon Elizabeth Pluhar and performed an experimental procedure on a German shepherd mix named “Batman” with terminal brain cancer.

The procedure was successful and opened the door for funding to treat dozens of other dogs and eventually humans.

Ohlfest was highly regarded by his colleagues and described as “one of the true leaders in cancer research.”

He is survived by his wife, Karen, and their two children. An education fund for his children has been established through Wells Fargo.