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Promise and Progress - 30 Years of Discovery, Education and Compassionate Care

A Cancer Revolution

30 Years of Discovery, Education and Compassionate Care

Date: December 1, 2004


The Department of Oncology is established with just 13 faculty members. By 2003, the Cancer Center has more than 242 faculty and is a world leader in the research and treatment of cancer.


The Nuclear Matrix is identified as the site for DNA replication, shedding light on the cellular changes that cause normal cells to turn malignant.


The Center establishes one of the nation’s first cancer pharmacology programs and begins developing and testing novel new drugs and compounds for the treatment of cancer. It quickly earns NCI recognition and a grant for Phase I trials of these drugs.


Division of Pediatric Oncology established.


The Johns Hopkins Oncology Center opens as one of the first Comprehensive Cancer Centers under the National Cancer Act.


The first Community Outreach proposal is developed to ensure our mission of transferring our discoveries to the community.Breast lesion and evaluation program offers the first nurse-run screening clinic.


The Center is awarded an NCI grant for new drug development.


The cancer cell-purging drug 4-HC is developed, making autologous (self-donor) bone marrow transplants possible.


Neuro-Oncology study group forms, pulling together diverse specialists for patient care and basic and clinical research.


NCI selects the Center as a site for phase l clinical trials of new anti-cancer drugs.


Discovery of the CD34 antibody makes it possible to isolate and collect bone marrow stem cells.

The anti-cancer compound Paclitaxel is refined at the Center and hailed as the most promising new anti-cancer drug in decades. It becomes standard therapy for the treatment of ovarian cancer and shows promise in lung and breast cancer therapy.


The Center’s nursing research program is initiated. Department of Patient and Family Services starts.


The Center is the only in the region to perform stereotactic brain surgery, computer-generated knifeless surgery used to destroy deep-seated tumors and blood vessel malformations in the brain.Timed sequential therapy for leukemia results in long-term remissions for 70 percent of patients treated.


Biodegradable BCNU polymer implants are approved for clinical trials in brain tumor patients.Thalidomide is used successfully to treat graft versus host disease.


“Hot Spots” of increased DNA methylation in human cancers are found and shown to play a key role in the genetic instability of tumors.


Genetically-engineered tumor cells are used to supercharge the immune system to seek out and destroy cancer cells. This vaccine prototype is today being studied in clinical trials for kidney, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.

The P53 gene is isolated and linked to the progression of colon cancer. It is later found to be the most commonly mutated gene in all cancers and marks the beginning of a decade-long series of genetic discoveries associated with the initiation and progression of colon cancer.


A blood test that identifies genetic mutations associated with an inherited form of colon cancer is developed and made available to high-risk families. It is the first genetic screening test for cancer.


Programmed cell death, in which a specific biochemical message is sent to the cancer cell, is used to trigger hormone-dependent breast cancer cells to die.

The National Familial Brain Tumor Registry, one of the largest collections of data on brain tumors in the world, is located in the Center and provides the first evidence that brain cancers can occur as a family disorder.


A group of breast cancer survivors and concerned Maryland women raises $2.l million to fund one of the nation’s first breast cancer research chairs and fellowships.


The Center is awarded a record three SPORE grants for lung, gastrointestinal, and prostate cancer research.

Abnormal Methylation is found to disable tumor suppressor genes, leading to the loss of normal cell function.

The Pediatric Oncology Long-Term Survivors Program becomes one of only a handful in the country to treat and make recommendations to prevent long- term medical problems associated with childhood cancer therapy.


DNA replication errors, called clonal markers, are used to detect cancer cells in body fluids, tissues, and secretions, at the very earliest stages, before they are detectable by pathology.  SAGE, a computerized system that allows researchers to simultaneously study thousands of genes, is developed and helps pinpoint differences between normal and tumor cells.


Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Center opens.The Bone Marrow Transplant IPOP Center opens, transferring this intensive therapy to a largely outpatient procedure.


People who smoke are found to have twice as many P53 mutations as those who do not. It is the first definitive biologic link between smoking and cancer.Construction of the new $125 million, 134-bed clinical facility, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building, begins.


Johns Hopkins and NCI create a joint fellowship training program for Pediatric Oncology.


A saliva test that detects squamous cell head and neck cancer is developed.

The Breast and Ovarian Surveillance Service, Colon Cancer Risk Assessment Service and Familial Cancer Service are established to provide genetic counseling, testing, screening recommendations, and test prevention strategies for individuals and families at high risk of developing cancer.


Bunting-Blaustein Cancer Research Building opens, bringing together more than 400 cancer researchers and staff.


Researchers develop pancreatic cancer vaccine and prove it activates immune cells against pancreatic tumor cells.

A Hopkins investigator becomes the first to definitively link the sexually transmitted virus HPV to the initiation of certain oral cancers.

Prototype for a non-invasive screening test for cancer is developed and detects DNA from tumor cells in body fluids such as urine, saliva, sputum, and breast lavage fluids.

Conversion test developed is nearly 100 percent effective in unmasking hidden gene mutations in patients with a family history of colon cancer.


Sidney Kimmel makes historic $150 million donation—the single largest gift to JHU—for cancer research and patient care at Johns Hopkins.

Center receives more than $2 million for cancer research through the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund.

Investigators prove high-dose cyclophosphamide is an effective therapy for many aplastic anemia patients. Gene-based therapy targets FLT-3 gene, the culprit in a lethal form of acute myelogenous leukemia.

Combined chemotherapy/radiation regimen saves voice box for many laryngeal cancer patients.


Cancer pain experts develop HOP (Hopkins Opioid Program), a computer program accessible by hand-held PDAs and used to properly choose and prescribe dosages of pain-killers for cancer patients.

Stool test for colon cancer developed. Detects mutated APC gene in DNA found in stool.


State-of-the-art Gamma Knife Center opens, using the latest computer and robotic technology and precisely targeted X-ray beams to perform knifeless surgery on brain tumors and other brain diseases.

Radiation Oncology receives departmental status. Ted DeWeese is named first director.


Pathology experts develop blood test that detects ovarian cancer-specific proteins.

Two drugs found to ease pain and extend life in advanced prostate cancer patients.

'Switched-off' family of genes found to be early step en route to colon cancer.

Lipid kinase gene is linked to development of colon cancer and found to be one of the most commonly mutated genes.

Online clinical trials database launched.