- In Memorium -
MD, age 101,
by Marcus A. Cohen and Patrick
Emanuel Revici, MD, developer of a system of chemotherapy
of negligible toxicity decades before chemotherapy became customary
in cancer care, died on Friday, January 9th of this year. His medical
practice spanned 73 years, from 1920 to 1993. He was 101.
His novel therapeutic ideas of nontoxic compounds
and individually-guided therapy earned him both enthusiastic support
in European and American medical circles, and the disapproval of conventionally-oriented
organizations in the United States.
In a New York Times article on December 2, 1952,
William L. Laurence, dean of the science writers, reported on Dr. Revici's
work in clinical oncology and noted the physician's collaboration with
Dr. John J. Masterson and Dr. John M. Galbraith, past presidents respectively
of the Medical Society of the State of New York and the Nassau County
In November, 1961, the Society for Promoting International
Scientific Relations, whose board of directors boasted 11 Nobel Laureates,
awarded its annual medal to Dr. Revici at the New York Academy of Medicine.
Nine years later, the Medical Society of the State of New York commended
him for his "50 years' dedication to medicine."
The element selenium is recognized as a trace element,
which in high dietary levels, has been associated with lower-than-usual
incidences of cancer. A noted selenium authority, Gerhard N. Schrauzer,
professor of biochemistry at the University of California at La Jolla,
publicly credited Dr. Revici in 1986 with "having discovered pharmacologically
active selenium compounds." He also noted that "The National
Cancer Institute has recognized the importance of selenium only within
the past few years." Revici had begun administering special selenium
anti-cancer compounds in the 1940s.
The Romanian-born Dr. Revici espoused his medical
theories to the European medical mainstream in the 1920s, Ô30s, and
early '40s. He settled in New York in 1947. While French medical academicians
expressed the belief that his new medicines would revolutionize the
treatment of many pathologies, the US medical community, for the most
part, remained indifferent.
Few American researchers and physicians possessed
more than a rudimentary knowledge of Revici's field of study, the behavior
of lipids in abnormal cellular metabolisms. In fact, it was not until
the 1980s that accumulating discoveries in biochemistry elucidated the
role lipids play in disease etiology and management.
Dr. Revici worked with a few associates and minimal
funding, the latter raised mostly by organizations created to support
his laboratory and clinical insights. He was an anomaly in a world where
research had become the province of large medical institutions financed
by substantial government grants.
Temperamentally and philosophically, Dr. Revici
had little patience for the delays incurred by the bureaucratic approval
process of the Food and Drug Administration. He observed that gravely
ill patients whose conditions were resistant to conventional therapies
could not wait for the cumbersome approval process to run its course,
often a decade or longer. Once his own careful experiments confirmed
the safety and efficacy of a therapeutic agent, he gave it to patients
regardless of regulatory agency policy. His overriding focus was patient
recovery or relief.
Revici's basic theory guiding diagnosis and treatment
he called "Biological Dualism." This evolved from a sophisticated
understanding of nature and related metabolic processes. He believed
that all natural phenomena arise from two forces: electrostatic and
quantum. The former is marked by positive and negative charges that
tend to annihilate each other. Quantum forces oppose this annihilation
by creating organization. Thus, electrostatic forces relate directly
to entropy, or the loss of order. Quantum forces, on the other hand,
because of their organizing role, relate to the increase of order, or
what Dr. Revici called "negentropy.
Dr. Revici used the terms "catabolic"
and "anabolic" to describe, respectively, the biological manifestations
of entropy and negentropy. Anabolic manifestations are constructive
and proliferative processes. Catabolic manifestations involve processes
that liberate energy and utilize stored resources. Dr. Revici posited
that the two opposing processes influenced almost every aspect of health
and illness. He described good health as a daily rhythmic fluctuation
from one process to the other, based on the needs of the body and environmental
demands. In sickness, and particularly in chronic degenerative conditions,
there is always a predominance, indeed a persistence, of either catabolic
or anabolic processes.
The analytic and therapeutic methods Dr. Revici
devised to manage disease consequently call first for identification
of the predominant "imbalance," then giving catabolic agents
for anabolic conditions and anabolic agents for catabolic ones. "Biological
Dualism" thereby allows treatment of many different pathologies
with a core group of compounds, which include fatty acids, sterols,
extracts of animal tissues, and minerals incorporated in lipids.
His concept of the dynamic antagonism between electrostatic
and quantum forces derived from his roughly contemporaneous adaptation
of the major conceptual "revolutions" in theoretical physics
during the first decades of the 20th century. This may distinguish him
as the first research clinician to synthesize classic Newtonian and
modern nuclear physics in applications to biological science and medicine.
From the very start of his research in the US, Dr.
Revici and his colleagues submitted their findings to meetings of prestigious
scientific and medical organizations and to peer-reviewed publications.
In its "Science In Review" column for March 4, 1951, The New
York Times reported on Dr. Revici's paper before the American Association
for the Advancement of Science on the effect of n-butanol in sodium
salt and sodium lactate solutions on shock caused by severe burns.
On September 19, 1959, the same newspaper carried
an article about a paper co-authored by Dr. Revici at the American Chemical
Society's 136th national meeting. It described a new method for studying
the defense response of adrenal glands to various injected compounds.
In July, 1961, the D. Van Nostrand Company (Princeton,
NJ), published Dr. Revici's 772-page textbook, Research in Physiopathology
as Basis for Guided Chemotherapy, with Special Application to Cancer.
The book summarized his life's work from 1920s through the 1950s.
The release of Dr. Revici's book by a publisher
long noted for its high quality scientific publications marked the epitome
of his efforts to persuade the medical community of the validity of
his research. However, earlier that year, the American Cancer Society
placed his work on its "Unproven Methods of Cancer Management"
list. After the group's blacklisting, sales of his book to the medical
community fell precipitously and the publisher was forced to destroy
practically the entire press run.
The anathematizing of Revici by the country's largest
private cancer fund-raising organization was followed by a drying-up
of private-sector funding of his research, scientific journal rejection
of his clinical data, and concerted efforts to remove him from medical
practice by institution of lawsuits and medical disciplinary proceedings.
Despite this harassment over some 30 years, he managed
to stay in practice with the help of his patients and a small but influential
number of public officials, including Congressmen Charles Rangel in
the 1970s and Guy V. Molinari in 1988, both of whom investigated the
data for his treatments of drug addiction and cancer.
In November, 1993, the New York State Health Department
revoked Dr. Revici's license on charges that his patients' records failed
to meet professional standards.
In 1995, Dr. Revici petitioned the State Education
Department for restoration of his license, citing favorable shifts in
government and the public's attitude toward alternative medicine, Federal
judicial opinions permitting patients expressly to assume the risk of
unconventional treatment, and, finally, amendment of New York State
law which assured doctors specializing in alternative or complementary
care that they would receive fair hearings in disciplinary investigations
Late last November, less than two months before
his death, the Education Department returned his license. Instrumental
in the restoration of his license were the liberalizing changes in the
medical and regulatory environment and letters of praise on his 100th
birthday from Governor George Pataki of New York and Congressman Bill
Richardson (now ambassador to the United Nations), among others. In
1997, the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, Assemblyman Sheldon
Silver, also lent his weight to Dr. Revici's quest by making it known
that he was preparing a Legislative Resolution honoring Dr. Revici for
his exemplary care and humanitarian concern for victims of disease.
Patients' pleas to the media and legislators may
have forestalled revocation of Dr. Revici's license in the 1980s. Political
pressure behind the scenes may have hastened restoration of the license
a decade later. Ultimately, however, the question of his therapy's efficacy
must be resolved by objective clinical investigators and appropriate
The likelihood of Dr. Revici's treatments being
used in clinical trials has increased with the formation by Congress
of the Office of Alternative Medicine in the National Institutes of
Health in 1992. The OAM and the FDA have been developing protocols to
test the most promising of Dr. Revici's agents: his selenium compounds.
The complementary and alternative medicine center, University of Texas
(Houston), recently joined in this cooperative endeavor. Other researchers
are studying various Revici compounds for eventual use against cancer
and other diseases.
Dr. Mark Noble, professor of oncological science
at the University of Utah, on hearing of Dr. Revici's death, explained
why so many researchers are interested in exploring his life's work:
"Dr. Revici leaves the world two legacies: First, the untold hundreds
of patients helped by him when other doctors had given up; second, the
challenge of understanding the physiological insights that allowed these
extraordinary recoveries. If we can succeed in this challenge, then
the true contributions of this remarkable man will finally begin to
be realized in full."
The great majority of Dr. Revici's cancer patients
had failed to benefit from available mainstream treatments, including
mainstream investigational therapy. Frequently, under his care, they
were put into long-term remission or improved quality of life. Dr. Revici
never declined to treat a patient because of inability to pay a fee.
Many impecunious patients were treated without charge.
Emanuel Revici was born in Bucharest, Romania, on
September 6, 1896. His father, Tulius Revici, was a physician practicing
in Bucharest. His mother, Ecaterina Gaster, was the daughter of a Dutch
His uncle, Moses Gaster (1856-1939), an internationally-renowned
philologist and writer, was exiled from Romania for political reasons
in 1885 and moved to England where he lectured at Oxford University
and became chief rabbi of the English Sephardic communities (1887-1919).
An active Zionist, Dr. Gaster was a close friend of Theodor Herzl and
he participated in negotiations with the British government that led
to establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
Dr. Revici received his doctorate in medicine and
surgery from the University of Bucharest in 1920, and his medical license
the next year. Later, he was appointed Preparator and Assistant (positions
corresponding roughly to instructor and assistant professor) at the
second Medical Clinic of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Bucharest.
In the mid-1920s, he concentrated on research into
lipids and cellular metabolism, and from 1936 to 1941, following resettlement
in France, he worked at various academic and hospital laboratories directed
by prominent Parisian physicians. The Pasteur Institute deposited five
papers by Dr. Revici on lipids in pathological pain and cancer in the
National Academy of Sciences, a prestigious method of registering landmark
Dr. Revici's service with the French Resistance
was followed by sanctuary in Mexico in 1941, where he continued his
medical studies. Between 1942 and 1945, he founded and directed a 100-room
free clinic staffed with fellow physicians-in-exile and local physicians.
In 1946, Dr. George Dick, dean of the Chicago University
medical school, invited Dr. Revici to continue his research in the US.
In recognition of his Resistance role and his scientific potential,
Sumner Welles, undersecretary of state under President Franklin Roosevelt,
arranged for special visas to bring Dr. Revici and his family to the
A group of influential New Yorkers in 1947 persuaded
Dr. Revici to open the Institute of Applied Biology in Manhattan to
treat cancer patients. He earned his medical license in New York by
examination the same year and worked as a scientist and physician until
Physicians at the Revici Life Science Center (200
West 57th Street, Suite 1205, New York, New York 10019 USA) continue
to offer the Revici therapies. The telephone number is 212-246-5122.
Dr. Revici is survived by his daughter, Nita, in
Chevy Chase, Maryland; two grandsons, Paul Revici Taskier, in Washington,
DC, and Allan Fred Taskier, in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey; and three
great-granddaughters, Madeline, Sasha and Abigail in Washington, DC.