Milestones in Cancer Research

Stanford's physicians work at the juncture of basic research and clinical medicine, translating the insights of basic research into lifesaving treatments for cancer patients. They work in settings that span the spectrum from basic science to clinical care: the Beckman Center, the Lucas Center, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and the state-of-the-art Center for Clinical Sciences Research. The new outpatient Stanford Cancer Center, which opened in 2004, will allow Stanford to build upon its history of multidisciplinary treatments for cancer.


Felix Bloch (pictured) and Edward Purcell (Harvard) discover nuclear magnetic resonance - used today to detect brain tumors and other cancers.


Henry Kaplan is the first physician in the Western hemisphere to use the linear accelerator to treat retinoblastoma, an incurable eye cancer. This technology is now used worldwide to treat Hodgkin's disease and other forms of cancer.


Saul Rosenberg (pictured), Henry Kaplan, and their colleagues begin to develop combined modality therapy - combining drugs, radiation, and surgery - that has dramatically improved survival rates for patients with Hodgkin's disease.


Malcolm Bagshaw develops a type of radiation therapy called high-dose, small-field radiation to treat prostate cancer without the need for surgery.


Arthur Kornberg synthesizes biologically active DNA in a test tube, spurring development of engineering techniques in medicine and biotechnology.


Leonard Herzenberg (pictured pointing) develops the flourescence-activated cell sorter, revolutionizing the study of cancer cells.


Stanley Cohen (pictured) and Herb Boyer (USCF) develop gene cloning, igniting the biotechnology revolution.


William Robinson isolates the genome of the virus that causes hepatitis B and a common form of liver cancer.


Paul Berg receives the Nobel Prize to recognize his work in the development of gene splicing technology.


Ronald Levy successfully uses monoclonal antibodies to treat cancer.


Mark Davis and Tak Mak (Ontario Cancer Institute) isolate gene coding for part of the T cell receptor, a key to the immune system's functions. The discovery brings scientists closer to the goal of developing vaccines to fight cancer.

J. Martin Brown (pictured left) develops the drug tirapazamine to attack the hypoxic cells in solid tumors, offering hope for the treatment of cervical, breast, headn and neck and prostate cancers.

Jeffery Sklar, Michael Cleary (pictured), and fellow Stanford scientists use purified genetic probes to diagnose cancer.


Irving Weissman uses cell separation techniques to isolate pure blood-forming stem cells in mice. In 1991, he separates these stem cells from human bone marrow cells, offering promise for the treatment of leukemias and breast cancer.


Sarah Donaldson and Michael Link (pictured with child) achieve a 96 percent survival rate for children suffering from Hodgkin's disease.

Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine opens.


Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford opens


Susan Knox uses radiolabeled monoclonal antibodies to treat patients with lymphoma and solid tumors. Richard Lucas Center for Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Imaging opens.

Ronald Levy develops customized cancer vaccine to trigger anti-tumor activity by the immune systems of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients.  


Branimir Sikic develops new approaches to overcome multi-drug resistance in cancer cells, enhancing the ability of chemotherapeutic drugs to treat leukemia, lymphoma, and solid tumors.

Peterson Center for Cancer Treatment opens in the Stanford University Medical Center. Robert Negrin, Samuel Strober, and Edgar Engleman (pictured) develop and initiate stem-cell transplants, which are less invasive, less costly, and more effective than transplantation of bone marrow.


Gil Chu discovers that the Ku gene is required for DNA end joining after ionizing radiation and during V(D)J recombination.


Mark Davis defines tetramer technology, permitting physicians to monitor patients' immune responses to cancer vaccines as well as study endogenous T cell responses to cancer.

Matthew Scott discovers a gene responsible for basal cell carcinoma, the most common human cancer.


  • Branimir Sikic, George Fisher, and Cheryl Cho develop a new treatment for metastatic colorectal cancers using an inhibitor of epidermal growth factor receptor in combination with chemotherapy, the IFOX regimen.
  • Opening in 2004, the Stanford Cancer Center provides ambulatory surgery and outpatient services.