Tribute to Professor Emeritus Michael Nathan Gould

Shown above is Michael Gould in 2018 standing alongside Jill Haag, who worked in Dr Gould’s lab for over 30 years

It is with great sorrow that I must inform you of the death of our revered faculty colleague, Professor Emeritus Michael N. Gould.  He passed away on Saturday, May 8th, 2021 of ALS. He is survived by his partner, Zoe Werth, their children, Alix Gould-Werth and her partner Spencer Reynolds, and Daniel Gould-Werth and his wife Deidre DeForest, his brother, Fred Gould, and his niece and nephews, Lindsay Gould Gilpatrick, Ezra Silverman and Lorin Silverman.  He was preceded in death by his sister, Jane Gould, whose husband is Elliot Silverman.

Dr. Gould joined the faculty in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in 1979 rising from the rank of Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Oncology to the ranks of Associate Professor in 1983 and full Professor in 1988 in the same department.  He transferred to the Department of Oncology, also known as the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, in 1998.  Dr. Gould held the WARF Professorship in the name of Kelly Clifton, a revered past member of the Department of Human Oncology’s faculty. He played multiple leadership roles as a Program Leader in the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center from 1994 to 2017. He contributed to many national and international efforts on cancer research over the years. Most notable were his memberships on the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Counselors from 2004-2009 and multiple National Institutes of Health study sections and special emphasis committees. At the university level, Dr. Gould contributed to many efforts including his membership on the Biological Divisional Committee from 1992 to 1996, the Biological Sciences Divisional Strategic Planning Committee from 2000-2004, and the University Committee on Committees from 2014 to 2018, as well as his long-time role on the UW Biotechnology Center Advisory Committee.  Dr. Gould mentored 24 graduate students and 25 postdoctoral trainees during his time as a faculty member.  He held 10 patents through WARF and was funded throughout his career from extramural grants largely from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. He was involved in 7 clinical trials related to his research on prevention and treatment of human cancers. Dr. Gould contributed to teaching multiple courses in Human Oncology. Most recently he taught Oncology 715 ‘Ethics in Science’ with Professor Janet Mertz, a required course for graduate students in multiple graduate programs.

Dr. Gould’s own research efforts over four decades were focused on identifying genetic factors that contribute to breast cancer and in discovering perillyl alcohol as a potential anti-cancer drug, leading to the above-mentioned clinical trials that included two recent trials. His research was largely focused on the use of rats as a model for human breast cancer. He developed important new technologies for manipulating the rat genome that opened many fields to using the rat as a model organism via genetic engineering.  This contribution transcended his own field of study.  Importantly, Dr. Gould identified multiple genetic loci that contribute to breast cancer through his genetic studies on rats.  These loci continue to be a focus of studies in the field.   Dr. Gould published over 220 publications including numerous, senior authored papers in top rated cancer journals including Cancer Cell, Cancer Research, Carcinogenesis, Oncogene, and Clinical Cancer Research as well as general interest journals including PNAS, PLoS Genetics, and Nature Biotechnology.   He gave over 150 invited seminars.  Dr. Gould was a pioneer in the development of the rat as a laboratory animal model for studying human breast cancer, and his research will continue to inform on progress in identifying the mechanisms underlying breast cancer development.

Dr. Gould will be greatly missed by his faculty and staff colleagues in McArdle, particularly Jill Haag, his Distinguished Researcher Emeritus, as well as his many trainees over the years, the Department of Human Oncology, the UWCCC, the School of Medicine and Public Health, the campus, and the cancer research community at large. Dr. Gould’s former lab member, Jill Haag, commented that “Michael never stopped coming up with new ideas during the 30+ years I worked with him.  It made working with him a challenge, and I loved every minute of it.  He will be truly missed by many”.  McArdle’s Professor Emeritus Bill Dove commented: “Michael has been a steadfast contributor to McArdle’s research discussions – both in seminars and in our faculty meetings.  I shall miss him greatly.” Dean Robert N. Golden reflected: “When I first met Michael shortly after my arrival in 2006, I was immediately struck by his profound love of science and his enthusiasm for teaching and learning.  Over the years I developed a deep appreciation for the many ways in which he embodies the very best traditions of science and our university”.  

On behalf of the members of McArdle, Human Oncology, the School of Medicine and Public Health, and the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I extend our deepest condolences to Dr. Gould’s family and friends.


Paul F. Lambert
Howard M. Temin Professor and Chair of Oncology
Director of the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research