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. Presentations and research shared each year at the meetings of the AACR were focused more on pathology and less on patients.

Drs. Goudsmit and Ansfield began to discuss the idea for a new organization with fellow “chemotherapists” Herman A. Freckman, MD, FASCO, and Robert Talley, MD, FASCO. At the first organizational meeting in early 1964—held over lunch in a small room at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago—they were joined by fellow founders Harry F. Bisel, MD, FASCO, William Wilson, MD, FASCO, and Jane C. Wright, MD, FASCO.

Pictured from left to right Drs. Ansfield, Bisel, Freckman, Goudsmit, Talley, Wilson and Wright

These seven individuals recognized the need to create a new society that would focus solely on issues unique to clinical oncology, specifically the fledgling field of cancer chemotherapy. Turning the focus from pathology and research, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) would be dedicated to emphasizing clinical considerations and patient care. This small meeting launched the start of the world’s premier oncology organization, which currently has nearly 45,000 members worldwide.