Roswell Park Cancer Institute: A History of Initiative and Innovation

Laura Bruck
Published: Thursday, May 12, 2011
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

Founded in 1898 by Dr Roswell Park, Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is the oldest dedicated comprehensive cancer center in the country. In 1974, the Buffalo, New York, facility was 1 of the first 3 institutions to be National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated as a comprehensive cancer center.

“Roswell Park [Cancer Institute] has been ahead of its time from the very start,” said president and CEO Donald L. Trump, MD. “Our founder, a distinguished surgeon who was recruited to the University at Buffalo in 1893, articulated what is now understood as the underlying philosophy of modern comprehensive cancer, centers: namely, the critical need to bring together multidisciplinary teams of scientists and clinicians to develop an understanding of cancer and to translate that understanding from the laboratory to clinical practice.”

More than a century after opening its doors, RPCI clinicians and scientists continue to apply this philosophy to every aspect of patient care, research, and education.

Roswell Pioneers

It would be an understatement to say that RPCI has been successful in this pursuit. As an internationally renowned center for groundbreaking research for more than a century, RPCI has been at the forefront of scientific discoveries that have ultimately changed the course of cancer screening, prevention, and treatment (see Timeline).

Not satisfied to rest on its laurels, RPCI has recently opened the Center for Immunotherapy, in which its faculty plays a major role in the development and clinical evaluation of vaccines and monoclonal antibodies for cancer treatment.

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center Timeline

Continued below
1898 – Roswell Park Cancer Center (RPCI) is founded.
1904– RPCI develops the world’s first chemotherapy research program.
1972– RPCI scientists pioneer photodynamic therapy.
1974– RPCI is one of the first 3 cancer centers approved as a National Cancer Institute designated comprehensive cancer center.
Late 1970s– RPCI scientists discover the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) molecule and, in subsequent years, pioneer the PSA screening test.
1980– RPCI scientists pioneer the combination of 5-fluorouracil and leucovorin as a treatment for colorectal cancer.

Alex Adjei, MD, PhD Recognized for Scientific Excellence

The Roswell Park Approach: Partnerships Near and Far

RPCI’s commitment to converting its scientific discoveries into real-world products and applications is, in part, evidenced by its 400 active, funded research projects. RPCI’s research work is organized broadly into 6 major programs that form the foundation for the RPCI Cancer Center Support Grant, awarded by the NCI and funded continuously since 1974 (see “Cancer Center Support Grant”).

View Conference Coverage
Online CME Activities
TitleExpiration DateCME Credits
Cancer Summaries and Commentaries™: Update from Atlanta: Advances in the Treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic LeukemiaFeb 28, 20190.5
Community Practice Connections™: 2nd Annual International Congress on Immunotherapies in Cancer™: Focus on Practice-Changing ApplicationFeb 28, 20192.0
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