Henry T. Lynch, MD, an eminent researcher and trailblazer in the field of hereditary cancers, died June 2, 2019, at age 91.
Born in 1928, Dr. Lynch joined the military at age 16, becoming a gunner in the U.S. Navy. After a stint as a professional boxer, he obtained his high school equivalent, then attended the University of Oklahoma as an undergraduate. After receiving his master’s degree from the University of Denver, he earned a PhD in human genetics from the University of Texas, Austin, and his medical degree from the University of Texas, Galveston.
In 1967, Dr. Lynch accepted a position at Creighton University, Omaha, Neb., where he would spend the rest of his career. He was the founder and director of the Hereditary Cancer Center at Creighton, served as chair of the institution’s Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, and was named the inaugural holder of the Charles F. and Mary C. Heider Endowed Chair in Cancer Research.
It was at Creighton that Dr. Lynch began his work on genetic causes of and familial susceptibility to certain cancers. Dr. Lynch created a hereditary cancer registry, and definitively identified several genetic cancer syndromes that persist through multiple familial generations.
Dr. Lynch is credited with identifying a strain of hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer that was named after him – Lynch syndrome. He is also credited with the discovery of hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome, which would eventually lead to the discovery of the BRCA gene.
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