Director's message: 40 years and going strong

Volume 2, Issue 1, 2013


The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center celebrates 40 years as an NCI-designated cancer center.

Robert B. Diasio, M.D.

Robert B. Diasio, M.D.

In 2013, we celebrate both a 40th anniversary and a 10th anniversary. Forty years ago, in 1973, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated Mayo Clinic an NCI cancer center. Thirty years after that, in 2003, the NCI recognized Mayo Clinic Cancer Center as a comprehensive cancer center with locations in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota.

NCI comprehensive cancer centers must demonstrate significant cross-disciplinary activity in laboratory, clinical and population-based research. The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center has successfully fulfilled this requirement during the past 40 years, making some noteworthy achievements along the way:

  • In the 1970s, our researchers defined the histologic, serologic, and molecular precursors of multiple myeloma.
  • In the 1980s, our researchers demonstrated that tamoxifen was preferred over diethylstilbestrol for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.
  • In the 1990s, our researchers provided the first definition of effective adjuvant therapy for colorectal cancer and provided the first published evidence that bilateral prophylactic mastectomy reduces the incidence of breast cancer by more than 90 percent among women with a family history of breast cancer.

The tradition of prolific discoveries continues. In the past two years alone, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center researchers have:

  • Pinpointed how the cancer gene MMSET enables disease-causing mutations to occur
  • Cured well-established prostate tumors in mice using a human vaccine with no apparent side effects
  • Identified a genetic marker associated with estrogen receptor negative breast cancer
  • Developed a test that offers greater accuracy in early detection of colorectal cancer
  • Identified a gene critical to the development and spread of lung cancer
  • Completed the world's first genome-wide sequencing analysis of peripheral T-cell lymphomas
  • Discovered a genomic variant that increases brain tumor risk

NCI comprehensive cancer centers must also demonstrate professional and public education and outreach capabilities and share clinical and public health advances with the communities they serve. Forefront is one way that the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center reaches out to our communities. I encourage you to read this issue to learn about some of the advances we'll be making during the next 40 years.

Best wishes,

Robert B. Diasio, M.D.
Director, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professor