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Dr. Gabor Markus, Roswell Park cancer researcher; June 8, 1922 -- April 29, 2012

Dr. Gabor Markus, a cancer researcher known for his work on proteins, died Sunday in Buffalo General Medical Center after a short illness. He was 89.

Dr. Markus, of Buffalo, was born in Budapest, Hungary, and received his medical degree from the University of Budapest in 1947. A survivor of Nazi persecution, he came to this country in 1948 and received a doctorate in physiology from Stanford University in 1950.

After six years of research and teaching at Stanford, he spent three years at the research department of Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. In 1957, he joined Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

He worked at Roswell Park for 35 years. He headed the experimental biology department and also held the positions of research professor and, later, chairman of the biochemistry department at the Roswell Park Graduate Division at the University at Buffalo. He taught for many years at the university and the cancer center.

Dr. Markus acquired an international reputation for his studies on the structure and function of protein molecules, particularly the mechanism of action of the clot-dissolving protein, streptokinase.

In 1961, he was named Established Investigator of the American Heart Association. He and his research group pioneered the study of the role of urokinase, an enzyme, in the local and metastatic spreading of various forms of human cancer.

In recognition of the significance of his research, he received in 1981 the Schoellkopf Medal from the Western New York Section of the American Chemical Society, and in 2003 he was elected to the Hungarian Scientific Academy.

He served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals and was author or co-author of 80 scientific publications.

Dr. Markus was elected president of the Roswell Park Association of Scientists three times. He continued his research for years after his retirement from Roswell Park in 1992.

He was a talented pianist, enjoyed participating in chamber music with friends and was a regular concertgoer. He was a member of the Hungarian American Social Club.

Survivors include his wife of 48 years, the former Rosemary Golebiewski; two daughters, Dr. Jennifer and Elizabeth; a son, Christopher; and a sister, Anna Mark.

A service will be at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Assumption Catholic Church, 435 Amherst St.