1950's & 1960's


In the 1950s, Drs. James Elam and Elwyn S. Brown's work in mechanical ventilation and artificial respiration revolutionize the field of anesthesiology. They also first describe the use of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

In 1954, Dr. David Pressman pioneers the first studies on the use of radiolabeled antibodies in the localization of tumors; and gains worldwide recognition for his research on the structural characterization of antibodies and the application of antibodies to define surface antigens, including those found on neoplastic cells.

In 1956, Dr. Donald Pinkel establishes the Department of Pediatrics and pioneers the first multi-institutional group (Acute Leukemia Group B) for the study of cancer treatment.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, two important tissue culture media are developed at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center which have enormous impact on biological and pharmacological cell research. Dr. George Moore, the fifth Institute director, and colleagues develop RPMI 1640. Dr. Maire Hakala provides the basis for the HAT (Hypoxanthine, Aminopterin and Thymidine) medium which has been essential to modern studies in molecular biology and the hybridoma technology for monoclonal antibody production.


In 1960, Dr. Enrico Mihich and his associates first demonstrate that certain anticancer drugs cooperate with immunological defenses of the host to attain antitumor curative effects.

In 1964, one of the nation's first three voluntary platelet collection centers is established by Dr. Elias Cohen.

In 1965, the Center for Crystallographic Research opens to study the arrangements of atoms in substances. This Center was the first and only one of its kind in the United States.

1967 was a busy year:

  • Dr. David Harker and his staff are the first to determine the intricate molecular structure of the enzyme ribonuclease. This achievement led to the production of synthetic enzymes in laboratories across the country.
  • Dr. Vahram Bakamjian develops the deltopectoral, or Bakamjian, flap to reconstruct head and neck areas following disfiguring cancer surgery. Today, the Bakamjian flap is used worldwide and is still considered the state of the art in reconstructive surgery.
  • Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center becomes the site of the Regional Center for Maxillofacial Prosthetics, one of only nine such centers in the United States. Prostheses, artificial devices used to replace missing parts of the body, are custom-designed to help rehabilitate cancer and trauma patients with head and neck defects or injuries.