1970s & 1980s


1972 - The National Cancer Institute names the first three comprehensive cancer centers: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and Roswell Park Memorial Institute. Distinguished by strong basic science programs, innovative clinical research and research on prevention, the three are held up as models for the development of other comprehensive cancer centers.

1973 - Roswell Park researchers report the results of a clinical trial studying the effectiveness of a treatment that combines 7 days of infusion with the drug cytarabine and 3 days of the drug daunorubicin. Later known as “7 and 3,” this therapy will become the worldwide standard of care for acute myeloid leukemia.

1975 - T. Ming Chu, PhD, DSc, discovers the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and develops the PSA test for early detection of prostate cancer. In 1986 the FDA approves the test for clinical use; it is now used worldwide. When used in men who fit the screening criteria, it reduces deaths from prostate cancer by 25-32%, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (October 3, 2017).

1978 - Roswell Park conducts the first clinical trial of photodynamic therapy (PDT), a treatment developed by researcher Thomas Dougherty, PhD, that combines laser light and a light-sensitive drug, causing a reaction that kills cancer cells. The treatment also shuts down blood vessels in the tissue around the tumor, reducing the chance that any cancer cells left behind will be able to grow. Today PDT is used worldwide and is FDA-approved for treating specific types of cancer.


1980 - Biologist Maire Hakala, PhD, observes that the drug 5-fluorouracil is more effective against cancer cells when leucovorin, a form of folic acid, is added. This information provides the basis for the development of 5-FU + leucovorin therapy, which later becomes the standard of care for treating colorectal cancer.

1981 - Roswell Park establishes the Familial Ovarian Cancer Registry, which collects DNA and lifestyle information from families with a history of ovarian cancer. The largest resource of its kind, the registry is critically important for research aimed at finding better ways to prevent, detect and treat the disease. Today the registry includes contributions from 2,700 families.

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.

1989 - Dr. K. Michael Cummings, Chair and Cancer Research Scientist in the Department of Health Behavior, Director of the Tobacco Cessation Center and an internationally recognized expert on cancer and smoking, serves as a contributor to the U.S. Surgeon General's 1989 Report on Smoking (and later the 1994 report as well).