I obtained my undergraduate degree from Cornell University and my medical degree from the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University. Following this I did an internship in Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center, followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. This was followed by additional training in Immunology and Pathology at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. From there I joined the Department of Pathology and Oncology at the University of Kansas Medical, progressing from an Assistant to full Professor in six years. I joined the OSU Department of Pathology in 1979 as Professor and transitioned to Emeritus status in 2013.
I have been involved in cancer research for the past 35 years. The primary focus of my research has been in the field of boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) for the treatment of malignant gliomas, one of the most malignant of human cancers. BNCT is a noninvasive therapeutic modality for treating locally invasive malignant tumors such as primary brain tumors and recurrent head and neck cancer. It is a two-step procedure: first, the patient is injected with a non-radioactive tumor localizing boron-10–containing drug that has a high propensity to capture slow neutrons. The cross section of the boron-10 is one to two thousand times greater than that of the other elements normally present in tissues. In the second step, the patient is radiated with epithermal neutrons, which after losing energy as they penetrate tissue, are absorbed by the boron-10, which subsequently emits high-energy radiation, resulting in a biologically destructive nuclear reaction. I have utilized my training in tumor immunology to focus on the use of monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs), directed against specific molecular targets such as the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), as boron delivery agents for BNCT to treat malignant brain tumors using a rat brain tumor model. Another component of my BNCT research has focused on the evaluation of low molecular weight boron compounds and optimization of their delivery for the treatment of brain tumors. A new area of research over the past 8 years has focused on another chemoradiotherapeutic approach for the treatment of brain tumors that combines administration of the anti-cancer drugs carboplatin or cisplatin directly to the site of the brain tumor combined with radiotherapy. This research has been funded by a variety of sources, including the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, the Department of Energy, and numerous private foundations. In addition to the research described above, I have had clinical responsibilities as a Pathologist on the Autopsy Service.
Over the course of my academic career I have mentored numerous Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Fellows, but unquestionably the most important together with my wife Christine have been our four children, Suzanna Diener, Ph.D. (Aerospace Engineering), Group Leader in Remote Sensing at Northrop Grumman, Boulder, CO; Alison Barth, Ph.D. (Molecular Biology), Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University; Rolf N. Barth, M.D., Associate Professor and Head, Liver Transplant Service, University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, MD; and Christofer D. Barth, M.D., Director, Cardiovascular Critical Care, Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, Milwaukee, WI.