Since opening in 1973, our Cancer Center has led the world in deciphering the mechanisms of cancer and new ways to treat it. Early on, the strength of its research and treatment programs were recognized, earning Johns Hopkins comprehensive cancer center designation from the National Cancer Institute and status as a "Center of Excellence." Johns Hopkins continues to earn more federal research dollars than any other medical institution in the country and, for 20 years, has earned the top spot and our cancer center has been among the top three in U.S. News and World Report rankings of the best U.S. hospitals. Calling our center a "cancer research powerhouse," an exhaustive review of the scientific literature by Thomson Scientific published in Science Watch found that the research of five of our investigators was the most often cited in all of cancer research. The findings of our brilliant investigators have become the classic model for determining the mechanisms of cancer initiation and progression.
The mission of the Kimmel Cancer Center is to go beyond the cutting edge in science and medicine to perform the most advanced research and translate the discoveries into the very best cancer therapies. The latest, plus some—is how Kimmel Cancer Center Director William Nelson describes this objective, pointing to state-of-the-art as just the starting point of what we offer.
Watch Dr. Stephen Baylin discuss research on the epigenetics of cancer:
Johns Hopkins researchers pioneered research that defined cancer as a genetic disease. These discoveries led to the first genetic tests for a hereditary cancer and a screening stool test for colon cancer.
Johns Hopkins investigators completed the first map of a cancer genome, deciphering the genetic blueprints for colon, breast, pancreatic, adult and pediatric brain cancers.
Personalized genome sequencing: of the cancers for which all genes have been sequenced, most have been done at the Kimmel Cancer Center. These discoveries have paved the way for personalized therapies with our investigators undertaking the first use of personalized genome scanning to reveal the gene mutation that caused a person’s inherited form of pancreatic cancer.
Working to understand the effects of methylation patterns on genes, the hallmark of epigenetic alterations, our scientists have used this molecular trail of evidence to develop broad-based cancer screening tests, monitor patients for cancer progression and recurrence, and to determine surgical margins by revealing cancer cells invisible to the human eye. Research linking DNA methylation to the leukemia precursor myelodysplastic syndrome led to the first FDA approval of a demethylating agent and earned the team recognition from the NCI for the most outstanding research in the SPORE program.
Kimmel Cancer Center researchers were among the first to develop therapeutic cancer vaccines. The Center is home to a GMP facility that allows scientists to produce the vaccines for clinical trials. Among the most successful of the vaccines is a pancreas cancer vaccine that turns on the immune system and leads immune cells, typically blind to cancer, to attack cancer cells in the pancreas and throughout the body was developed here. Other vaccines for cervical cancer, prostate cancer, and leukemia also were developed here.
Kimmel Cancer Center researchers were among the first to perform bone marrow transplants to treat blood and immune-forming cancers. Now, they have expanded upon this early expertise becoming the first to perform haploid (half)-identical transplants, increasing the number of patients who can take advantage of the curative therapy. Breakthroughs managing graft vs. host disease have made transplants possible for patients who do not have identical donor matches.
Unique collaborations among leaders in science and medicine as well as engineering, physics, and other disciplines have allowed our Center investigators to tackle problems of great scope and obtain solutions that would not otherwise be possible.