A society of clinical oncology… has the potential of becoming the means for advancing and disseminating medical knowledge and contributing greatly to the improved diagnosis, treatment, well-being, and longevity of hundreds and thousands of fellow citizens.
—Arnoldus Goudsmit, MD, PhD, FASCO
As 2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), it seems only appropriate to highlight the founders of the Society and the vision they shared for its future.
The 1960s were the early days of the use of chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer, and oncology was a fledgling field of medicine. At that time Arnoldus Goudsmit, MD, PhD, FASCO, and Fred J. Ansfield, MD, FASCO, were both early pioneers of the use of chemotherapy and sought to learn as much as possible about the use of these anticancer drugs; however, they found that information and educational opportunities were lacking.
A New Society
Drs. Goudsmit and Ansfield began to discuss the idea for a new organization with fellow “chemotherapists” Herman A. Freckman, MD, FASCO, and Robert W. Talley, MD, FASCO, and, at the first organizational meeting in early 1964, they were joined by Harry F. Bisel, MD, FASCO, William Wilson, MD, FASCO, and Jane C. Wright, MD, FASCO.
As members of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the seven founders recognized the need to create a new society that would focus solely on issues unique to clinical oncology. Dr. Goudsmit emphasized the importance of such a society at the first meeting of 51 charter members held in November 1964: “A society of clinical oncology… has the potential of becoming the means for advancing and disseminating medical knowledge and contributing greatly to the improved diagnosis, treatment, well-being, and longevity of hundreds and thousands of fellow citizens.”
The first scientific ASCO Annual Meeting, during which Dr. Bisel presided as the Society’s first President, was held in 1965 in Philadelphia with more than 70 members and invited guests, and it featured three presentations on leukemia and multiple myeloma.
In the 50 years since its founding, ASCO and its members have made tremendous strides in the development of breakthrough treatments for cancer. With membership having grown to more than 35,000, the Society continues to stay true to the vision first set out by its founders, all of whom continued to dedicate their careers to the treatment of patients with cancer.
To read more about ASCO’s history and the Society’s remarkable progress against cancer, visit ASCO’s CancerProgress.Net. ■
Selected portions reprinted from CancerProgress.Net. © American Society of Clinical Oncology. “Oncology Luminaries: ASCO Founders” www.cancerprogress.net December 9, 2013. All rights reserved.