History

In Cancer First, Two Heads Are Better Than One

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.

Echoes from the Past: Frederick’s Flagship Immunotherapy Program, Part 3

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.

Echoes from the Past: Frederick’s Flagship Immunotherapy Program, Part 2

The morning of April 20, 1981, dawned over Frederick, dismal and gray. A canopy of clouds hid the sun, and a springtime chill clung to the city, stirring into a cold breeze later in the day. Despite the ostensibly ill omen, it was an important day for biomedical research. The first patients would be admitted to the Biological Response Modifiers Program (BRMP) inpatient unit at Frederick Memorial Hospital.

Echoes from the Past: Frederick’s Flagship Immunotherapy Program, Part 1

It was a party of international stature. More than 300 scientists from 27 countries dined and rubbed elbows in the J. Harper Poor Mansion in Manhattan, a three-story abode that in past years had welcomed the likes of President John F. Kennedy, comedian Jack Benny, and actress Marilyn Monroe. At the center of it all were the Krims, who had invited the droves of researchers into their home for a celebration to kick off an international workshop at Rockefeller University. The subject was interferon, a class of natural proteins associated with the immune system.

Echoes from the Past: BRMP, Bastion of Progress, Resonates Decades Later

Though it lasted just 15 years, Frederick’s first clinical oncology program answered multiple fundamental questions in the fledgling field of immunotherapy and primed the local medical community to become the oncology research hub it is today. The Biological Response Modifiers Program (BRMP) received formal recognition from the Department of Health and Human Services 40 years ago today, on April 27.

Echoes from the Past: Program Pioneers a Path for Frederick’s Science, Part 3

Unsurprisingly, the new Basic Research Program at the Frederick Cancer Research Center took some time to gain momentum despite the preparations that had been made. Margaret Kripke, Ph.D., head of the program’s Immunobiology of Physical and Chemical Carcinogenesis Section at the time, recalls that her first year was dedicated to setting up her new laboratory, hiring staff, moving around, and finishing projects she had started in her former laboratory at University of Utah.

Echoes from the Past: Program Pioneers a Path for Frederick’s Science, Part 1

As the winter of 1973 turned to spring, the Frederick Cancer Research Center (FCRC), the forerunner to the Frederick National Laboratory and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) at Frederick that exist today, neared the one-year mark since its opening. The more than 250 employees had made sound progress, given the challenges of converting the old Fort Detrick biowarfare facilities into a fledgling cancer center. Their efforts had drawn some attention, too.

Echoes from the Past: A New Institution for Cancer Research Is Born

On October 18, 1971, President Richard Nixon emerged from the U.S. Army Post Headquarters at Fort Detrick into the sunlight of one of Frederick’s signature autumn mornings. Nearby, a crowd of dignitaries, Army officers, and journalists from local and national news outlets had gathered to hear his remarks about the former biowarfare research facility. He greeted them, paused to make a good-natured joke about the Baltimore Orioles, then delivered an announcement that altered the course of biomedical research in the United States.