The Passing of Joost Oppenheim

The Passing of Joost Oppenheim

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news that Joe passed away this weekend from complications of GI cancer.  Please see the notice to family and friends below. 

Aside from his seminal contributions in cytokine biology and legacy as a mentor to many,  he was a strong advocate for the role of JLB in not only advancing science but also as a tool to bring us together as a community.  We will gather to honor his legacy at the upcoming meeting in Hawai'i.

Please join us in taking a moment to remember Joe and carry his legacy forward in our work and our community.

 Joost Oppenheim, August 11, 1934 - May 14, 2022

Joost Oppenheim passed away on May 14, 2022  at the age of 87.  He is survived by his second wife, Ann Goldman; four children, Meers, Monty, Matthew and Emia; two step children, Randy and Dale, and many grandchildren. He was predeceased by his beloved first wife, Elizabeth (Libby) Oppenheim.

He was born in Holland in 1934, survived the holocaust as a Jewish child hidden by a Catholic family (the Heuvelmans), and emigrated to the U.S. in 1946.  As a talented student, he attended the Bronx High School of Science, Columbia University, and Columbia Medical School. He had a successful career working to understand and cure illness, mostly as an NIH scientist. He traveled around the world, exploring, talking about science and history, playing tennis and cards, and collecting stamps.

Joost graduated cum laude with a medical degree from Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons in 1960 and then did an internship at King County Hospital in Seattle. In 1962, he began his storied career at NIH as a Clinical Associate. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Birmingham, England, he returned to be a senior investigator at the National Institutes of Dental Research (NIDR) and then the Chief of NIDR’s Cellular Immunology Section. In 1983, he moved to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to be the Chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Immunoregulation in the Center for Cancer Research. In addition to his 60 year career at NIH, he was also a Medical Officer of the Commissioned Corp for 32 years, adjunct faculty at the University of Maryland, a volunteer physician in clinics around the DC area, visiting lecturer in multiple countries, editor on multiple scientific journal boards, and an invited speaker to innumerable scientific conferences.

Joost was a pioneer in the study of immune cell regulation and response, and instrumental in the discovery of cytokines, chemokines, and alarmins, substances produced by immune cells that enable them to communicate with one another and act as “first responders” to injury or infection. His considerable mentoring activities succeeded in training scientists around the world. For this and his discovery in the area of cytokines he was dubbed the "Father of Cytokines".

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to a couple of Joe’s preferred charities

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
Montgomery Hospice, Inc. Casey House
Weizmann Institute

Please share stories and memories about Joost here at this remembrance Facebook page.