Michael W Retsky, PhD

Editor In Chief

Molecular & Integrative Physical Science Programme
Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health

Contact Michael W Retsky, PhD

Department / University Information


Michael Retsky (PhD in Physics from University of Chicago) made a career change to cancer research thirty years ago. He is on staff at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Angiogenesis Foundation, both in Boston. He is also on faculty at University College London. He was on Judah Folkman’s staff at Harvard Medical School for 12 years. Retsky is Editor of a Nature/Springer book on breast cancer to be published in 2017 and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Bioequivalence and Bioavailability. He is a founder and on the Board of Directors of the Colon Cancer Alliance and has published more than 60 papers in physics and cancer. He was diagnosed with stage IIIc colon cancer in 1994. Based on his prior research on tumor growth and therapy he decided against using conventional maximum tolerated chemotherapy. Instead he used a low dose, long term therapy administered daily with a portable infusion pump and the usual colon cancer drug 5-fluorouracil. The therapy was non-toxic and apparently worked well since he did not relapse and it is now well beyond the period of risk of relapse. This was discussed with Judah Folkman and Tim Browder in 1996 and led to testing of this therapy in the Folkman lab. Results were published in 2000 by Browder et al and the therapy is now termed metronomic chemotherapy. The Browder et al Cancer Research 2000 paper is a citation classic. Both Folkman and Browder are deceased so Retsky (the cancer patient) is the only one left alive to relate the story of the initiation of metronomic chemotherapy. (See Retsky M. An argument for discovery-driven research: from physicist to cancer researcher. Ecancermedicalscience. 2014 Jul 3;8:ed38. doi:10.3332/ecancer.2014.ed38. eCollection 2014. PubMed PMID: 25075219; PubMedCentral PMCID: PMC4096027.)

Research Interest

His area of interests are cancer,oncology ,breast cancer, anesthesiology, NSAID analgesic,surgery research at HSPH and electron beam technology.