Lori Pierce, Helen Coley Nauts, and National Cancer Program milestones

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Women’s History Month

Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO began her term as the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 57th president on June 1, 2020, making her ASCO’s first African American woman to hold this prestigious title. The desire to pursue a career in medicine took root when Dr. Pierce was a young child visiting family in segregated Ahoskie, North Carolina. She witnessed firsthand the impact the town’s lone African American family physician had on the community.

Helen Coley Nauts, the founder of the Cancer Research Institute (CRI), was a high school-educated housewife and mother who, from the time of her father’s death in 1936 until her own passing in 2001, would go on to fundamentally change the fields of cancer research and immunology. Her determination and perseverance in the face of constant resistance from the medical establishment of her day laid the foundation for cancer immunotherapy as it is known today.

Quote of the week

We are constantly aware that the [National Cancer Program] is unique for the federal government and for medicine. It has responsibility not only to conduct and foster cancer and related research, but to coordinate all cancer research done in the United States and to establish interrelationships in other countries as well.

Frank J. Rauscher, Jr.

Recent contributions

Primary Sources

This column features the latest posts to the Cancer History Project by our growing list of contributors.

The Cancer History Project is a free, web-based, collaborative resource intended to mark the 50th anniversary of the National Cancer Act and designed to continue in perpetuity. The objective is to assemble a robust collection of historical documents and make them freely available.

Access to the Cancer History Project is open to the public at CancerHistoryProject.com. You can also follow us on Twitter at @CancerHistProj.

Is your institution a contributor to the Cancer History Project? Eligible institutions include cancer centers, advocacy groups, professional societies, pharmaceutical companies, and key organizations in oncology.

To apply to become a contributor, please contact admin@cancerhistoryproject.com.

In This Issue


President Joe Biden’s proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health would be a welcome partner to NCI—particularly in conducting large, collaborative clinical investigations, NCI Director Ned Sharpless said.“I think having ARPA-H as part of the NIH is good for the NCI,” Sharpless said April 11 in his remarks at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. “How this would fit with the ongoing efforts in cancer at the NCI is still something to work out.”