These five documents, each categorized as “Memo for the Record” were written by John W. Yarbro, MD, PhD, sometime in 1974 or 1975.
The documents offer an authoritative insider’s assessment of where the cancer centers program—and each individual cancer center stood at the time of Yarbro’s departure from NCI in 1975 (The Cancer Letter, July 18, 1975).
The documents appear to have been written for Yarbro’s successor at NCI.
The memos were discovered by Donald L. “Skip” Trump, MD, and Eric Rosenthal after they interviewed Yarbro for their book, Centers of the Cancer Universe: A Half-Century of Progress Against Cancer.” The material serves as a basis for a section in Trump’s and Rosenthal’s book.
Yarbro died on April 13, 2020, at age 88.
The three comprehensive cancer centers in existence from the outset were M.D. Anderson, Roswell Park and Sloan-Kettering.
At the time of Yarbro’s departure comprehensive designation was given to five more centers: the Sidney Farber Center in Boston, Fred Hutchinson Center in Seattle, Wisconsin Center in Madison, Greater Miami Center in Florida, and the Mayo Foundation Center in Minnesota. (The Cancer Letter, July 18, 1975.)
According to NCI at the time, the following institutions were identified as developing comprehensive cancer centers: Fox Chase Cancer Center, affiliated with University of Pennsylvania; Colorado Regional Cancer Center; Duke University Medical Center; Georgetown University-Howard University Comprehensive Cancer Cancer Program; Illinois Cancer Council; the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions; University of Alabama, Birmingham; University of Southern California (with the Los Angeles County Department of Hospitals); and Yale University Medical School.
Trump, Rosenthal and Connie H. Yarbro gave The Cancer Letter and the Cancer History Project permission to publish the five memos. The five memos are being published here in full for the first time. A conversation with Trump and Rosenthal is published here.