1970's & 1980's


On October 11, 1971, Roswell Park hosted an US House of Representatives hearing on the National Cancer Institute act. The National Cancer Act was signed by President Nixon on December 23, 1971.

In 1972, Photodynamic Therapy, a laser/chemical treatment, is pioneered by Dr. Thomas J. Dougherty. PDT is used worldwide – as an investigational therapy – to treat cancers of the skin, breast, lung, bladder, esophagus, and head and neck.

Also in 1972, Cyril T. Garvey, whose 13-year-old son Kevin died of cancer, purchases a house one block away from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center to provide low-cost housing to the Institute's patients and their families. The Kevin Guest House is the oldest hospitality house in the United States and the prototype for the Ronald McDonald Houses across the country.

In 1973, the James T. Grace, Jr. Cancer Drug Center opens. This facility was and continues to be one of the only academic centers in the United States which has the capability of taking drug development from its conceptual stage in the chemistry laboratory through testing of the compound in clinical trials.

Dr. Edmund Klein, former chief of the Dermatology Department, develops the protocol for the application of a highly effective topical anticancer agent, 5-FU, for skin cancer.

In 1975, Drs. Lucius Sinks and Arnold Freeman, of the Pediatrics Department, are the first to use high doses of the drug methotrexate to treat pediatric tumors. This treatment has been credited as one of only a handful of treatments which significantly reversed the "death sentence" associated with childhood cancer.

In the late-1970s, Dr. T. Ming Chu and his associates characterize a human prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Through the transfer of the patented technology, this marker – the most effective parameter in the management of prostate cancer – is now widely used in the United States and abroad.


In 1980, Dr. Maire Hakala pioneers the drug combination 5-FU and leucovorin. Later, clinical trials with this chemotherapy indicate a significant improvement in the response rate of patients with colorectal carcinomas – from 10% to 20%.

In 1985, Roswell Park participates in national studies which demonstrate that human beta interferon treatment significantly reduces the frequency and severity of exacerbations of multiple sclerosis.

In 1986, Institute researchers play an instrumental role in locating the genetic defect for familial adenomatous polyposis – a pre-malignant condition leading to colorectal cancer. Future studies in this area could lead to the development of a blood test which would identify individuals at risk for colorectal cancer.

In 1987, a Pediatric Long-term Follow-up Clinic, one of the first of its kind in the nation, is created by Dr. Daniel Green.

In 1988, with the recruitment of Dr. Carleton C. Stewart, a noted immunologist from Los Alamos National Laboratory and one of the world's authorities on flow cytometry, Roswell Park becomes one of the leading centers in the use of this highly sophisticated, highly sensitive diagnostic tool.

Dr. K. Michael Cummings, director of the Smoking Control Program and an internationally recognized expert on cancer and smoking, serves as a contributor to the U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Smoking from 1988.