Leukemia & Lymphoma Society History

Like in the case of many charitable organizations, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society was born out of grief that followed the untimely death of a teenage son due to leukemia. Robert Roesler de Villiers, the son of a prominent family in New York died at the age of 16 as he succumbed to this deadly disease in 1944. His parents Rudolph and Antoinette de Villiers started this fundraising and educational organization in their son's name because they were extremely frustrated with the lack of understanding and effective treatment options available.

The Robert Roesler de Villiers Foundation had a small budget and few volunteers. It was located in a small Wall Street office. At this stage, leukemia patients, especially children, died within three months of detection. Even though chemotherapy had appeared on the scene, the first generation chemotherapy had many side effects. The struggle against the medical condition was still nowhere in sight.

The name of the organization was changed to "The Leukemia Society" and then later in 1960s to "The Leukemia Society of America" as they increased their presence across the nation. Over time the society was able to identify good talent and attract them towards researching leukemia and associated conditions.

There have been various researches that have been associated with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The standard model of chemotherapy used was started in 1950s by Joseph Burchenal, M.D., at the New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The discovery of oncogenes can be attributed to Geoffrey M. Cooper, Ph.D. William Dameshek, M.D., discovered the first effective chemotherapy agent and Brian Druker was a significant contributor to the development of Gleevec. This was a revolutionary nontoxic pill that could treat a specific kind of leukemia and other cancers as well. It has also been approved by the FDA. The use of platelets transfusion, the isolation of interleukin - 2, the invention of 6-mercaptopurine and thioguanine, bone marrow transplant and more, are some of the milestones in the history of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.


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