Kenneth Endicott, the first director of the National Cancer Institute's chemotherapy research program, predicted after
the rapid growth of the program in the mid-1950s that "the next step--the complete cure--is almost sure to follow."
By the 1980s, scientists had found about thirty drugs for treating human cancers, especially in children. Nevertheless, a
"cure" proved elusive because too little was known about the basic biology of cancer to make targeted research into
therapies fruitful. New discoveries about the genetic origins of cancer during the 1970s came from basic research in cancer
virology, an area that had received only modest funding compared to chemotherapy.
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1962-06-28 (June 28, 1962)
Endicott, Kenneth M.
National Cancer Institute (U.S.)
Original Repository: Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Mary Lasker Papers
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
It is with the deepest regret that I inform you that effective June 30, 1962, the National Cancer Institute is abolishing
the Chemotherapy Board, the Viruses and Cancer Board, the Field Studies Board, and the various panels which have worked with
these three boards in developing and guiding our programs in chemotherapy, virology, diagnostic research, biometry, epidemiology,
and carcinogenesis. The provisions of President Kennedy's memorandum on conflict of interest were such that it became
obvious that the Cancer Institute, with its large industrial contract program, would have to assume responsibility for the
review of contract proposals and could no longer turn to outside advisory groups for this purpose.
Obviously, the Cancer Institute has to continue to have expert advice on its programs from nonfederal scientists, and we are
developing plans for an alternative system for obtaining this advice. At the moment, there is such an enormous workload involved
in clearances for existing committees and committee members that it is impossible to activate any new committees, but as soon
as the backlog is cleared up a little, we will develop our alternative plan. The additional workload imposed upon the National
Cancer Institute staff in connection with this new responsibility is very large, and I am sure cannot be managed unless we
can call upon our experienced advisors on an individual basis to help out with special problems. I know that I can count on
you to help in the interim period while we are making the changeover.
Finally, may I express my own personal gratitude and that of the entire Cancer Institute staff for your help in developing
these important programs.