Morton Kligerman, MD

Cancer Center

Morton Medvene Kligerman was born in Philadelphia. He received his medical degree from Temple University and taught there briefly before being named an assistant professor of radiology at Columbia in 1950. In 1958, Dr. Kligerman moved to Yale, became chairman of the department of radiology and remained there until 1972, when he was recruited to be the Director of The University of New Mexico Cancer Center.

Dr. Kligerman was an early advocate for using radiation and other experimental methods for treating cancer. In the 1970s, he helped oversee experiments that used a device to attack localized tumors too remote for surgery or radiation. The approach, known as pion therapy, sent a stream of high-energy particles through the body and into the tumor; the idea was to overcome the radiation resistance found in certain cells. Although pion therapy was promising, Dr. Kligerman and his colleagues did not find enough efficacy to proceed to more intensive trials.

At Pennsylvania in the 1980s, Dr. Kligerman became interested in a chemical agent, WR-2721, intended to mitigate the damage done to surrounding body tissue during radiation treatment. He led successful clinical trials in which WR-2721 was injected or inserted intravenously, and lectured widely on the results. The agent remains in use, often for head and neck cancers, Dr. Hellman said.

Dr. Kligerman taught at The University of New Mexico until 1980, after which he held professorships in oncology and radiology at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale. He died in Philadelphia at the age of 88.