Fred S. Cantor, MD

Fred Stewart Kantor, MD, Paul B. Bison Professor Emeritus of Medicine (Immunology), whose dedication continued to train young physicians until his death, died on May 28 at Yale New Haven Hospital, where he had faithfully served for 56 years. He was 90 years old.

Cantor was born in New York City on July 2, 1931. His father was a dentist and his mother was a lawyer. He attended Brooklyn Technical High School and then received his BA from Union College in Schenectady, New York in 1952, and attended New York University (NYU) School of Medicine, where he received his M.D. and was awarded the Founder’s Day Scholarship. From 1956 to 1957, he trained as an intern at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, followed by a two-year stint as a Research Associate at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where he made fundamental contributions to understanding the mechanisms by which streptococcal infection leads to rheumatic fever. In 1959, he entered Yale University School of Medicine, where he completed his residency in Internal Medicine under Professor Paul Besson.

In 1960, Cantor became Helen Hay Whitney’s fellow under Bison, and from 1961 to 1962 he completed a fellowship in immunology at New York University under the Nobel Prize-winning scientist, Baruj Benakiraf. In Benacerraf’s lab, Kantor made breakthrough discoveries of responses to synthetic antigens that led to the realization that the nature of the tissue type transplanted into antigen-presenting cells was critical to the function of immune response genes. This work earned Cantor early international fame.

In 1963, Cantor returned to Yale University as an assistant professor of medicine, and was promoted to professor in 1973. In 1982, he was awarded the degree of Paul B. Professor. Bison in medicine. He has worked as a visiting scholar and visiting professor at several international institutions, including the Walter and Elisa Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia; Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel; Department of Zoology at University College London; Pahlavi University, Shiraz, Iran; The Hebrew University, Hadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem; As well as Harvard and Stanford universities.

He will long be remembered as one of the principal educators at Yale University School of Medicine. His message to the trainees was inspired by his analytical training as a scientist and his Oslerian attitude of “mind hard questions” to the problem at hand. His passion for medicine, its content and its traditions excited the devoted trainees and helped them enter the profession he loved and cherished. He was a loyal present and mentor in the Department of Internal Medicine’s daily morning report until the days before his death – a valuable voice and historical presence who connected his audience with the tradition of excellence that marked his life in medicine. The Yale New Haven Hospital Teacher of the Year award, one of the first awards to be awarded by an internal medicine residency, is named in his honor.

Cantor embodied the “triple threat” of American academic medicine and its mission to create new knowledge, train future generations of physicians, and deliver excellent health care. He was a caring and wonderful doctor who invested deeply in caring for his patients. Above all, he excelled as an inspiring and inspiring teacher, forging the art and craft of medicine for several generations of apprentices.

Founded in shaping the culture of Yale University School of Medicine, its motto for the school was “As good as everyone else, nicer than anyone else.” Former trainees of Dr. Cantor, a man of great wisdom, often echo Cantor’s rule: “If the patient is sick, you take action, and if the patient’s condition worsens, that is probably what you did.”

He received many honors and accolades over the course of his career. From 1962-1972 he received the Career Development Award from the US Public Health Service. From 1981 to 1984 he was Secretary/Treasurer for the prestigious Interurban Clinical Club, of which he served as its President from 1985 to 1986. In 2002, he was awarded the Solomon A. Berson Graduate School of Clinical Science Award from New York University. He was elected as a member of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology as well as a fellow of the American Board of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. He served on the board of the American Heart Association and was elected a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

He served on several editorial boards, including Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology,Journal of Immunologyand the Annals of internal medicine. He has served in the Department of Immunobiology Study at the National Institutes of Health and as a member and chair of the Allergy and Clinical Immunology Research Committee at the National Institutes of Health. At Yale, he has been a member of countless committees, including the Trainee Selection Committee, for 46 years.

Cantor directed the Clinical Immunology Research Laboratory, which focused on making important new observations in a variety of diseases related to T-cell and B-cell immune responses, including primary biliary cirrhosis, myasthenia gravis, and Lyme disease. Working with a team at Yale University, including Richard Flaville, PhD, Errol Vikrig, MD, and Stephen W. Barthold, MD, PhD, he developed Lymerix, a Lyme disease vaccine that won Food and Drug Administration approval in 1998 and distributed it Smith Klein Beecham Pharmaceutical Company.

His long marriage to his wife Linda, who survived him, was a loving partnership of shared accomplishments that fueled their lives. Cantor’s greatest source of pride and joy was the family they created. He is survived by his wife by sons Michael (Kathy Landau), Karen and Ted (Susan), and seven grandchildren, Emma, ​​Twyla, Rebecca, Alice, Max, Sam, and Isabel. He was preceded in death by his grandson Sasha.