David Brandes, 81, pathologist, studied cancer

January 15, 2000|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dr. David Brandes, a Baltimore pathologist whose work in electron microscopy studying cancer cells led to a greater understanding of their structure and the effects of treatment on cellular growth, died Jan. 8 from complications during heart surgery at Union Memorial Hospital. He was 81.

A longtime resident of Tudor Arms Apartments in Wyman Park, Dr. Brandes was associate chief pathologist at the old Baltimore City Hospitals, now Johns Hopkins Bayview, from 1965 until retiring in 1987.

He also taught pathology and radiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine during this time.

A pioneer in the early 1950s in the use of the electron microscope to study complicated cellular structures under extremely high magnification, Dr. Brandes also centered his research on treating cancerous cells with Vitamin A, hormones and radiation.

He concluded that "conventional anti-cancer weapons like radiation and certain drugs produce their effects by promoting self-destruction of cancer cells," reported The Evening Sun in a 1966 interview with Dr. Brandes.

He reported to a 1966 meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, that "cancer cells contain tiny particles called lysosomes, which in turn contain enzymes capable of destroying the cells if released."

"He was world famous and much of his work was of a ground-breaking nature," said Dr. Richard E. Slavin, chief of anatomic pathology at Emmanuel Hospital Health Center in Portland, Ore., who worked with Dr. Brandes at City Hospitals from 1960 to 1977.

"Dr. Brandes was always in the forefront of the field of electron microscopy," said Dr. James W. Eagan, a friend and pathologist at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson.

Dr. Brandes also authored nearly 100 papers which were published during his career.

Born in Buenos Aires, Dr. Brandes graduated from high school there.

He earned his bachelor's and medical degrees from the University of Buenos Aires in 1948, and completed his residency in pathology at the National Cancer Institute in Buenos Aires in 1951.

In 1951, he was selected as the British Council Scholar and worked at the Chester Beatty Research Institute and Royal Cancer Hospital in London.

He worked later as a research pathologist in the department of cancer research at London Hospital Medical College until becoming an investigator in experimental pathology in electron microscopy at the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

In 1956, he returned to Argentina when he was appointed head of the ultrastructure laboratory in the department of radiobiology at the Argentine Atomic Commission.

Dr. Brandes immigrated to the United States in 1957, after being appointed associate professor of anatomy at Emory University in Atlanta, and moved to Baltimore in 1960 when he became a fellow in pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

He was honored by the National Cancer Institute which presented him its Career Development Award in the 1960s.

His 1954 marriage to the former Mary Barratt ended in divorce.

Plans for a memorial service are incomplete.

Dr. Brandes is survived by a son, Dr. Martin Brandes of Cambridge; two daughters, Helena Brandes of Santa Fe, N.M. and Jane Brochin of Towson; and his special friend of five years, Elle O'Riley of Severna Park.

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