George Peter Sutphen Marchant Beardsley In Memoriam: G. Peter Beardsley, M.D., Ph.D. Dec. 29, 1940 - Sept. 6, 2017 G. Peter Beardsley, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Pharmacology at Yale Medical School, died Wednesday, September 6, 2017. A member of the Yale faculty since 1986, he was an internationally known pioneer in the study of folate enzymes and a leading figure in the treatment of childhood cancer. From 1986-2000, Dr. Beardsley was the Section Chief of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Yale University School of Medicine, and from 1986-1999 served as Director of the Pediatric Oncology Program at the Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center. To his patients and their families, he was a beloved physician who created lifelong bonds of friendship and caring that extended long after their treatments had ended. To the many graduate students, postdocs, and young physicians he worked with, he was often much more than an instructor, becoming a mentor and champion for each of them. To his friends and family, he was a captivating story teller with an infectious joy for life. Dr. Beardsley contributed to the advancement of both clinical and laboratory research into childhood cancers. In his laboratory, Dr. Beardsley's principal research interests were the structural biology of folate enzymes and the development of novel antifolates as anticancer drugs. He was one of the inventors of the compound DDATHF which was a candidate anticancer drug that was taken to clinical trials. He was a prolific researcher who published over 80 research papers, patents, and book chapters most of which were devoted to the area of antifolates. In addition to his laboratory research and his care for his patients, Dr. Beardsley served on the National Institutes of Health / National Cancer Institute Experimental Therapeutics Study Section, and held leadership roles in the Pediatric Oncology Group, a cooperative research group with the mission of studying childhood cancers. He also maintained prominent positions on numerous NIH Ad Hoc Study Sections. In addition, he was instrumental in expanding the impact of the Tommy Fund for Childhood Cancer, a non-profit organization that provides emotional, educational, medical and financial support to children with cancer and their families. Dr. Beardsley earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1967, his Ph.D. in bio-organic chemistry from Princeton in 1971 working with Professor E.C. Taylor, and his M.D. from Duke, in 1974. He was an intern in Pediatrics at Yale New Haven Hospital from 1974-1975, and a Resident from 1975-1976. Dr. Beardsley's residency was followed by a three-year fellowship in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Harvard Medical School/Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Children's Hospital from 1976-1979. He was an instructor and assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard from 1979-1985, during which time he held clinical positions at Children's Hospital and Dana Farber. Dr. Beardsley grew up splitting time between East Orange, NJ where he attended school and Old Lyme, CT where he spent summers with his extended family. Boating and boat building were early and lifelong passions of his. As a child he built and raced small boats on the Black Hall river in Connecticut, and in recent years he was a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Mystic, CT serving as Flotilla Commander in 2015. He was an inquisitive tinkerer at heart, and the same insatiable curiosity that drove his academic study also drove an unquenchable thirst to take on ambitious projects—projects that often involved learning an entirely new skill set. The seemingly endless list of hobbies that he claimed included: boatbuilding (as a teen he built the hull of a 30ft sailboat in the backyard of his home), sailing, woodworking (he hand built a cherry wood conference table which he donated to a conference room at Yale), winemaking, cooking, enjoying great food (once traveling to Belgium on a whim with his son for a single meal), singing, gardening (often cultivating exotic species of fruit), fly fishing (taking many trips to Scotland to experience the best of the sport), train restoration and home building (he designed and built a small post and beam cabin in the Connecticut woods). Dr. Beardsley's joy for life and love for his friends and family will be remembered as much as his professional accomplishments. He is survived by his wife Miriam Beardsley, and his loving family including his brother Tim Beardsley and sisters Jane Marsh and Elizabeth Marsh, his son Christopher and his wife Allison Young, his daughter Anne Bosworth, his grandchildren, Owen and Charlotte Beardsley and Allison Bosworth, and his step-daughter Melissa Curtin. A memorial service is being planned for later this fall in Old Lyme, CT. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The Tommy Fund for Childhood Cancer in memory of Dr. Beardsley and his work.
Published in The New Haven Register from Sep. 9 to Sep. 13, 2017.