38 Friday, March 21, 1986
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
THE INDIVIDUAL JEW WOULD HAVE BEEN LOST
MANY TIMES AND LONG AGO.
•BUT A JEW IS NEVER ALONE...
(HE) IS FOREVER SURROUNDED BY HIS COMMUNITY
WE ARE ONE, ..PARTNERS FOR LIFE
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NEW YORKER FILMS
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Part 1 .
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Recipe Against Cancer
Continued from Preceding page
Dr: Foon becanip faculty mem-
bers. Then one day, he called a
friend at the National Cancer In-
stitute to tell of a position opening
at UCLA. The 'friend told 'Foon
about a new program for biologi-
cal therapists being; formed at
NCI — a program needing a
leader. Foon was offered the job.
"I felt I couldn't turn it down. It
was a remarkable opportunity for
me. At the National Institutes of
Health you wait ten, 15 years to
get a position like that. Because it
(the NCI program) was new and in
a new area they wanted to bring
in new people. There I was."
NCI, he said, "is a remarkable
place to do research. Everything's
at your fingertips. You can have
all the money you could ask for to
do research, but it's very bureauc-
ratic. More important was that it
was away from a 'university
environment where there are
teaching and other thing besides
He started to miss teaching,
at various levels
Dr. Kenneth Foon: Searching for cancer clues.
(with) residents, interns, and
doing a little Eroader medicine. I
a position here. Ijust thought that who was very dear to me, was a was very focused there. All I did
was my , chemical research. My
I'd take a look because they asked physician and a role model tome."
me to come. It's a major medical
Within career decisions, patients would come in for in-
school and it's in my home town. though, are decisions of speciliza- terferon. They'd come in for
Well, in Ann Arbor. Detroit's ray tion. There are all kinds of doc- monoclonal antibodies. I wanted
home town. My family's here. I tors. And for a time, Foon wasn't to drisomething I thought would
felt I owed it to myself to at least
quite sure what branch of be more enriching for the rest of
take a look."
medicine suited him.
Foon's wife, Rebecca Garrett,
"My wife Rebecca and I both
So he looked around. When Max
also is a doctor, a rheumatologist trained in internal medicine," Wicha, director of Michigan's
at Michigan. And as busy as they Food explained. "That's how we Hematolgy and Oncology di-
both are, they find time for their met. But she went into the sub- vision, got wind of that, he ap-
three children: Melissa, 7, specialty of arthritis- proached Foon at an Interna-
Michele, 5, and Jeremy, nine rheumatology and I went into tional Cancer Institute meeting
cancer and blood: hematology-
and asked him to take a look at
Foon is the son of Alvin and oncology."
the opportunity at U-M. And with
Shirley Foon of West Bloomfield.
His year of internship at the additional urging of William
Alvin Foon is president of AFCO California-San Diego was 'very
Kelley, chairman of the U-M De-
Automotive Co. in Holly and the stressful" and although he always -- partment of Medicine, Foon de-
recently established Michigan thought he'd go into internal • cided "to go home."
Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Ken's medicine,. suddenly he wasn't
Understanding what Dr. Foon
older brother, Ron, is an attorney quite sure.
does may be difficult for lay per-
with Oakland County Friend of
"I first decided I'd be an sons, but he does his best to ex-
the Court. Younger brother De- ophthamalogist and wind up in plain the technicalities:
nnis is a playwright in Van- ophthamology residency," he
Biological research is called
couver, British Columbia. Dennis said. "Then I realized I had abso- "immrinotherapy" by some. As an
recently won a British Theatre lutely no interest in that. I lined example, strains of tuberculosis
Association award for his anti- up a psychiatry residency because that no longer are infectious are
racist play Invisible Kids, which I've always been interested in injected into people to help build
was staged in London in Novem- psychiatry. Then I decided, `Why up their immune • system.
am.I doing this when I really want "They've been doing that kind of
"I see us as a family of over- to be an internist?' "
reserach for years and years, but
achievers," Dr. Foon said with a
That angst came during his in the past ten years what's hap-
laugh. "I think to some people three-year tenure as an immunol-
pened is that we can now clone
things come easy to them. I think ogy researcher at the National In-
agents genetically and literally
that in our family we don't have stitutes of Health. But, since his ,take the human gene — DNA —
genius IQs or anything. I think it first day of medical school when out. . . and put it into bacteria and
comes from Alvin. He's just he "fell in love with blood cells and
the bacteria make the product.
tenacious . .. We've been very hematology," it became clear he'd • let "So
in other words, the human
goal oriented and committed. stick with internal medicine.
interferon gene . . . can be put into
Whatever we do, we do with
"My interest in psychiatry fit bacteria and that bacteria can
very nicely" in his chosen field,
•Foon said he first became in- Foon said, because "so much of • make interferon in large, large
quantities. That's what we call
terested in medicine as a• child.
what we do is talking to people.
"I guess many of my role models Unfortunately many times we genetic engineering."
Because of that technology,
were physicians," adding with a don't have much we can& but we
chuckle that it was his mother have to do the best we can and talk drug companies could make large
more than his father who steered to people, so I decided that (oncol- quantities of interferonit a rea-
• sonable cost. Foon said he has
him into the field.
ogy) would be the ideal field."
been testing alpha interferon —
"It was the Jewish mother syn-
After a year of residency in one of several types — for five
drome. But that's very typical of Washington,
D.C., at the Vete-
the second generation American rans Administration and years and it is almost ready to be
Jews, who I think are very profes- Georgetown University hospitals, • marketed. However, it is only ef-
sion oriented. Virtually all my Foon went to UCLA on a fellow- fective on a limited number of
friends went into professions. ship. Rebecca went, also.
"We very clear alpha interferon
Even if their families had
"That's where she went to med-
businesses, they went into profes- ical school so it was like going is not the panacea for cancer it
was touted to be eight or nine
sions — lawyers, doctors.
home for her," he said. After years ago," he said.
"My mother's older brother, back
three Years of training,. Dr. and
• That's a major problem with