Prof. Dr. Christoffel Jos van Boxtel
A respected colleague, considerate friend, and caring doctor
18 May 1940 – 23 January 2020
We are saddened to inform you that International Clinical Pharmacology has lost one of its faithful heroes. Professor Christoffel Jos van Boxtel passed away on the 23rd of January 2020.
We remember our lovely, ebullient friend. I [I. Ralph Edwards] have been co-editor of an important book with him and we have known each other for decades. We remember him as Chris, as he himself would sign his e-mails, official and informal letters to make them feel very personal, caring and warm.
Chris received his Doctor of Medicine degree from Leiden University, the Netherlands, in 1967 and his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Amsterdam University, the Netherlands, in 1972.
Chris had a remarkable career in clinical pharmacology: starting off as a resident in internal medicine at the University Hospital Amsterdam (1971– 5), working as a clinical pharmacology fellow in Karolinska Institute Sweden Vanderbilt University (Nashville), National Cancer Institute (USA, 1975– 7), then a reader in clinical pharmacology at Leiden State University (1977– 8), and at University Hospital Amsterdam (1978– 89).
In 1989 he was appointed Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Amsterdam. Since 1990, for many productive years, he served as the Chair of the Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy at the Academy Medical Centre, Amsterdam. In those times Chris also chaired the Institutional Review Board of the Academy Medical Centre for nearly 20 years; contributed to the hospital antibiotics committee and editorial committee for longitudinal teaching in predoctoral education (since 1992); and chaired the hospital formulary committee since 1985.
Chris became a champion of clinical pharmacology, driven solely by considerations of patient benefit. Chris dedicated his work to researching, understanding and communicating the true relationship between the benefits and risks of medicines to wider international audiences.
Chris published the international textbook of clinical pharmacology entitled Drug Benefits and Risks, which he co-edited with Budiono Santoso and I. Ralph Edwards. He authored many chapters of the first edition, which became a unique resource exploring the balance between medicine risks and benefits using a scientific evidence basis and real-world practice of pharmacotherapy and focusing on the social effects of medicines in societies of the 21st century. The textbook brought together more than 60 authors from all five continents of the world to create evidence-based guidance on the practice of clinical pharmacology and pharmacotherapy and to encourage the rational use of medicines in modern societies.
Many distinguished pharmacologists reviewed and welcomed this publication. The second edition of the textbook was translated into Chinese and published by China Medical Technologies Publishers.
Another book that Chris wrote was The in Vivo Study of Drug Action: Principles and Applications of Kinetic-Dynamic Modelling.
Chris generously shared his expertise with the WHO Expert Committee on Selection and Use of Essential Medicines and passionately advocated for the discipline of clinical pharmacology to benefit patients and societies.
Chris contributed as a member to many research groups and scientific societies in clinical pharmacology and publishing: he was a member of the advisory board of the Foundation International Medical and Pharmaceutical Advisory Superior vena cava syndrome, Amsterdam (1981– 3); advisor to Elsevier Science Publications, Inc., Amsterdam (1983– 92); the first advising committee on Pharmacoepidemiology to the Dutch Health Council (since 1989); member of the science advisory board National Aids Therapy Evaluation Centre (since 1990); member of the European Pharmacovigilance Research Group (since 1992); secretary of the board Risk Benefit of Drugs – Analysis and Response (RADAR-AR) Council, the Netherlands (1991– 3) and became its Chairman in 1993.
Chris was a member of the Dutch Society for Advancement of Science, Drug Information Association, Medicine and Surgery, Dutch Society Clinical Pharmacology and Biopharmacy, Dutch Pharmacology Society, New York Academy of Sciences, European Society of Pharmacovigilance, International Society of Pharmacoepidemiology, where he served on the program committee since 1989, and the public policy and ethics committee since 1993.
My [I. Ralph Edwards] reflections about Chris would be his patience, humility and his sense of humour. I would pay tribute to his search for a way to make and keep clinical pharmacology a very relevant discipline to the humane treatment of patients as individuals.
Over 15 years Chris was the Editor-in-Chief of The International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine (IJRSM) and helped to develop it. He published many important articles, some of which were featured in BBC documentaries.
Chris supported QiQUM (Quality information for Quality Use of Medicines) conferences in Kazan, Russia both personally and through the IJRSM. For the last QiQUM 2015 conference, which launched Cochrane Russia, Chris dedicated a special IJRSM issue to the Conference proceedings of participants.
It is not yet possible to imagine this world without Chris ... .. the empty silence takes over ... the shock and pain, and loss we share with the family.
Chris has been and will always be with us, we treasure his lessons and legacy and will work to make his discipline of clinical pharmacology live and improve the health of people all over the world.