The Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNL) not only tackles some of the world’s greatest biomedical challenges but also serves as a shared national resource to enable high-quality research beyond its walls. One way FNL does this is through the Technical Services Program.
The Biological Response Modifiers Program had come into its own. Gone was any thought that this was a fleeting initiative. It was a robust mix of clinical and laboratory science at the forefront of immunotherapy, what was becoming the next major method for treating cancer. The program’s capabilities expanded in the second half of the 1980s, even as its clinical trials continued to reveal insights into biological agents for cancer treatment.
Pockets of the NCI at Frederick campus have popped with color the past few months. Staff working on-site may have noticed landscaped flowerbeds boasting arrays of annuals and files of ferns as they passed by larger buildings. The plants were installed thanks to the Campus Improvement Committee, a small group passionate about making a big impact.
Their study started to unravel the riddle of how cancers spread, demonstrating that tumors are comprised of different types of cells, or heterogeneous. Up to this point it was thought that cancer cells in a tumor were identical to each other. The work conducted by husband-and-wife Isaiah (Josh) Fidler, D.V.M., Ph.D., and Margaret Kripke, Ph.D., in Frederick would eventually be recognized as a landmark discovery that redefined the scientific understanding of tumor biology.
Sarah Hooper was hard at work in the intensive care unit at Frederick Memorial Hospital. The young nurse had joined the hospital staff in 1981—her first nursing position—and was spending her days monitoring, caring for, and helping patients in critical condition. All around her, they were struggling with respiratory problems, cardiac issues, and infections. But four beds were special. They were reserved for cancer patients participating in the Biological Response Modifiers Program.