Pioneers in Oncology

Hematologic Malignancies

On William Osler: The Old Art and the New Science

Marvin J. Stone, MD, MACP  /  July 1, 2011

William Osler (1849–1919) is one of the most revered physicians in the history of medicine. He was an outstanding clinician who emphasized bedside teaching, hard work, medical history, and lifelong learning.1 As Professor of Medicine at four institutions in three countries, he exerted a profound inf...

A Leading Light in Cancer Advances, Mary Lasker Used Wealth and Connections to Increase Funding for Medical Research

Jo Cavallo  /  September 15, 2012

Born in Watertown, Wisconsin, in 1900, Mary Woodard Lasker was introduced to the ravages of cancer when she was just 3 or 4 years old and went with her mother to visit the family’s laundress, Mrs. Belter, who had just undergone surgery for breast cancer. On the way over to Mrs. Belter’s home, Ms. La...

Pediatric Pathologist Sidney Farber, MD: The ‘Father of Modern Chemotherapy’ and Cofounder of the Jimmy Fund

Jo Cavallo  /  October 15, 2012

In June 3, 1948, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study by Sidney Farber, MD, showing that a synthetic compound, 4-aminopteroylglutamic acid (aminopterin), could induce remissions in seriously ill children with acute leukemia.1 Although the study was small—just 16 children—10 showed c...

V. Craig Jordan, CMG, OBE, PhD, DSc, Honored for Accomplishments in Women’s Health

Ronald Piana  /  August 25, 2019

The Companion of the Most Distinguished order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG) is generally reserved for ambassadors and leaders of the United Kingdom’s defense and security services. Only 1, 750 appointees are permitted. This year, the Head of M16, the Secret Intelligence Service, was in the p...

Improving the Lives of Patients With Cancer Is Richard L. Schilsky’s Lifelong Mission

Jo Cavallo  /  September 10, 2018

In 2009, as Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FACP, FSCT, FASCO, was preparing his Presidential Address for that year’s ASCO Annual Meeting, he came across his 6th grade essay titled “My Ambition,” which foretold with eerie specificity the career path he would follow over the next 6 decades. In the paper, ...

Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD, Works to Unmask Cancer’s Achilles Heel

Jo Cavallo  /  November 25, 2018

Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD, knew from the start of his medical career that if treatments for cancer were to become curative, research in new therapies would have to move away from the mainstay one-size-fits-all approach of systemic chemotherapy to an innovative, personalized strategy that utiliz...


A Lasting Legacy

Jo Cavallo  /  August 10, 2015

When Emil J Freireich, MD, retires from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center on September 1, he will have spent 50 years at the institution and a total of 60 years in the pursuit of curing childhood leukemia as well as other cancers and in the educational development of young physician-...

David A. Karnofsky's Early Contributions to Cancer Research Helped Establish Oncology as a Medical Discipline 

Jo Cavallo  /  February 15, 2013

For nearly 30 years, from the time he was a young resident at the Collis P. Huntington Memorial Hospital for Cancer Research of Harvard University, until his death from lung cancer on August 31, 1969, David A. Karnofsky, MD, dedicated himself to the pursuit of scientific excellence and the investiga...

Breast Cancer

Oncology Trailblazer James F. Holland, MD, Recalls a Time of Unbridled Scientific Excitement 

Ronald Piana  /  February 1, 2013

James F. Holland, MD, began his journey into oncology when it was still a nascent discipline, working alongside groundbreaking pioneers in the field such as Drs. Emil “Tom” Frei and C. Gordon Zubrod. Dr. Holland recently shared a glimpse of his role in oncology’s formative years with The ASCO Post. ...

Issues in Oncology

Co-discoverer of DNA Double Helix, James Watson, PhD, Offers a New Theory on Cancer Progression 

Jo Cavallo  /  July 25, 2013

Despite his fame as co-discoverer—along with Francis Crick, PhD—of the double-helix structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in 1953, that accomplishment is not what James Dewey Watson, PhD, came to talk about during a recent presentation he gave at the World Science Festival in New York. Instead, D...

Prominent Surgeon and Teacher LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr, MD, Promotes Hard Work and Education to Overcome Boundaries

Jo Cavallo  /  July 25, 2020

LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr, MD, the Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, DC, died on May 25, 2019, at the age of 89. The ASCO Post paid tribute to Dr. Leffall in its July 10, 2019, issue. Here, as part of our 10-Year Anniversary Series, we reproduc...

Lung Cancer

Claudia I. Henschke, PhD, MD, Took a Circuitous Route to Her Groundbreaking Work in Lung Cancer Screening 

Ronald Piana  /  November 1, 2013

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”  —Leonardo da Vinci Lung cancer CT screening may have had no greater advocate than Claudia I. Henschke, PhD, MD. In the face of unrelenti...

Prominent Surgeon and Teacher LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr, MD, Promotes Hard Work and Education to Overcome Boundaries 

Jo Cavallo  /  September 15, 2013

Reminiscing about his 65 years in medicine, LaSalle Doheny Leffall, Jr, MD, FACS, cites three events in his early childhood that would ultimately lead him to his position today as the Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, DC. First, he was draw...

Physician-Scientist Judah Folkman, MD, Faced Years of Skepticism Before His Theory of Angiogenesis Was Proven

Jo Cavallo  /  January 15, 2013

That Moses Judah Folkman would buck tradition, breaking his family’s long line of rabbinical succession and pursuing a career in science and medicine instead, was evident from the time he was a young child. Born in Cleveland on February 24, 1933, the first child of Rabbi Jerome and Bessie Folkman, y...

Immunotherapy Research of James P. Allison, PhD,  Has Led to a Paradigm Shift in the Treatment of Cancer

Jo Cavallo  /  September 15, 2014

James P. Allison, PhD, has been bucking the status quo since he was a teenager growing up in the small agricultural town of Alice, Texas, in the 1950s and 1960s. He first butted heads with authority figures when he was in high school and learned that his biology class had omitted the teaching of evo...

Hematologic Malignancies

Early Research of David G. Nathan, MD, Ushered in the Field of Pediatric Hematology

Jo Cavallo  /  October 25, 2015

When David G. Nathan, MD, was admitted to Harvard University in 1947, he had every intention of becoming an English professor. It was only his lack of writing talent that dissuaded him from a life in the classroom and propelled him into a medical career that has spanned more than 5 decades and has l...

Dr. Jimmie C. Holland’s Research Has Long Underscored the Importance of Caring for the Whole Patient

Jo Cavallo  /  August 10, 2020

Jimmie C. Holland, MD, who served as the inaugural Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, died on December 24, 2017, at the age of 89. The ASCO Post paid tribute to Dr. Holland in its January 25, 2018, issue. Here, as part of our...

With the Goal of Curing Cancer, Ezra M. Greenspan, MD, Helped Usher in the Modern Era of Chemotherapy

Jo Cavallo  /  January 15, 2014

Two events in Ezra M. Greenspan’s early adult life convinced him to pursue a career in medicine: the death of a college friend from pneumonia when the two were students at Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences and his own bout with the disease soon after. Saved by a local physician who pr...

'Matriarch of Modern Cancer Genetics,' Janet D. Rowley, MD, Helped Propel the Field of Molecular Oncology 

Jo Cavallo  /  June 25, 2013

Even as a child, Janet D. Rowley, MD, found the intellectual order and logic of science appealing. Born on April 5, 1925, in New York, Dr. Rowley’s parents, Hurford and Ethel Ballantyne Davison, moved the family to Chicago 2 years later. Both educators, the Davisons encouraged their only child in he...

Integrative Oncology

AIDS Research Led to Appreciation of the Power of Plants and Integrative Medicine in Cancer Care for Donald I. Abrams, MD

Jo Cavallo  /  June 25, 2020

The path that led Donald I. Abrams, MD, to a career in oncology was a circuitous one. Although his love of science began when he was a student at Cleveland Heights High School in Ohio, and continued during college at Brown University, where he received an AB in molecular biology in 1972, he was firs...

Issues in Oncology

Francis Crick's Discovery of the Structure of DNA Transformed 20th Century Biologic Sciences 

Jo Cavallo  /  June 10, 2013

“My Dear Michael, Jim Watson and I have probably made a most important discovery. We have built a model for the structure of des-oxy-ribose-nucleic-acid, called DNA for short.… In other words we think we have found the basic copying mechanism by which life comes from life,” wrote Francis Crick, PhD,...

Dr. Jimmie C. Holland’s Research Has Long Underscored the Importance of Caring for the Whole Patient

Jo Cavallo  /  December 15, 2012

Although internationally recognized today as the founder of the subspeciality of psycho-oncology, the field of psychiatry held no interest for Jimmie C. Holland, MD, when she entered Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, in the mid-1940s. Born in 1928 at the dawn of the Great Depression, Dr....

Ushering in a New Era in Personalized Medicine

Jo Cavallo  /  May 25, 2016

When Waun Ki Hong, MD, and his pregnant wife, Mihwa, made the journey from Korea to Manhattan in 1970, he had just $451 in his wallet, and the only job he could get was as an intern in Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, a community hospital in the Bronx. The work was grueling—24-hour shifts every 2 nigh...

Solid Tumors
Breast Cancer

Dr. Bernard Fisher's Breast Cancer Research Left a Lasting Legacy of Improved Therapeutic Efficacy and Survival 

Jo Cavallo  /  May 15, 2013

Bernard Fisher, MD, is recognized today for his groundbreaking research in breast cancer, which ultimately ended the standard practice of performing the Halsted radical mastectomy, a treatment that had been in place for more than 75 years. His laboratory and clinical investigations led to more effec...


Dr. Joseph Bertino's Breakthrough Work in Methotrexate Resistance Led to Understanding Why Cancer Drugs Work or Fail 

Jo Cavallo  /  August 15, 2013

Looking over his 5 decades in clinical oncology and research, ­Joseph R. Bertino, MD, says his greatest professional satisfaction comes from seeing his former students and oncology fellows go on to achieve great success in their own medical and research careers. It is a fitting sentiment since Dr. B...

Integrative Oncology

Barrie R. Cassileth, MS, PhD, Champion of Integrative Oncology, Continues to Nurture Growth of the Field 

Ronald Piana  /  April 15, 2013

Over the past decade, integrative oncology has gained wide acceptance as an evidenced-based way to improve the lives of patients with cancer throughout the continuum of their care. The ASCO Post recently spoke with Barrie R. Cassileth, MS, PhD, Chief of the Integrative Medicine Service and Laurance ...

A Need for Human Connection Led to a Rewarding Career in Geriatric Oncology for Lodovico Balducci, MD

Ronald Piana  /  November 25, 2019

Older adults are the fastest-growing segment of our population, and more than 65% of patients with newly diagnosed cancer are 65 years of age or older. Although we now recognize the special needs of older patients with cancer, the field of geriatric oncology emerged quietly, with early growing pains...

Hematologic Malignancies

William Dameshek, MD, Helped Take Hematology From a Minor Medical Discipline to a Major Scientific Field

Jo Cavallo  /  November 25, 2015

Although William Dameshek, MD, is renowned for his work in hematology, especially in advancing the understanding of myeloproliferative disorders and their interrelatedness, his early interest in medicine was instead focused on such diverse diseases as hyperthyroidism and typhus fever. Born on May 2...