1950s & 1960s

1955 - The Institute creates the Roswell Park Graduate Division of the University of Buffalo, which today offers M.S. and Ph.D. programs in cancer sciences to prepare students for research careers. The Institute later expands its educational mission to include residency and fellowship programs in clinical oncology, postdoctoral programs, continuing medical education for community clinicians and summer research programs for high school, college and medical students.

1956 - Dr. Donald Pinkel establishes the Department of Pediatrics and initiates a pediatric cancer research program. In 1961 he will become the first medical director of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

1958 - Roswell Park, the National Cancer Institute and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo publish the results of the nation’s first multi-center oncology clinical trial, overseen by James Holland, MD, Roswell Park’s Chief of Medicine. In this new model of clinical research, the three institutions conduct the same study, sharing data and information to speed our understanding of the best way to treat acute leukemia. The collaborating centers call themselves the Acute Leukemia Group B. Headquartered at Roswell Park, the group will later evolve into today’s Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology.

1964 - Led by James Grace, Jr., MD, Roswell Park researchers grow leukemia cells in the laboratory for the first time — a breakthrough that makes it possible to study chromosome abnormalities, the way cancer cells grow and change, and how chemotherapy drugs affect the cells. This work later expands to include cultures of solid tumors. The cells are sent to researchers in many countries to support global cancer research.

1964 - Roswell Park opens one of the nation's first three voluntary platelet collection centers, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Elias Cohen, Director of the Institute’s blood bank.

1966 - Roswell Park researchers develop a new medium to help cancer cells grow and thrive in the laboratory — RPMI 1640, named for Roswell Park Memorial Institute. Today RPMI 1640 is manufactured by ThermoFisher Scientific on Grand Island, New York, and shipped to research laboratories all over the world. It is also used to support tissue transplantation for burn and trauma patients.