skip to main content


UM Cancer Center 25th Anniversary Timeline

1986 to 1988

From Left: Marcy Waldinger, Max Wicha, MD, Alfred Chang, MD[+]
From Left: Marcy Waldinger, Max Wicha, MD, Alfred Chang, MD


University of Michigan regents approve establishment of a cancer center with Max Wicha, M.D. as founding director and Marcy Waldinger as Administrator.


The National Cancer Institute awards U-M a cancer center designation.


1991 to 1998



U-M receives NCI's elite designation as a "comprehensive" cancer center


Researchers publish initial findings describing radio-immunotherapy for patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma using a new drug that will come to be called Bexxar


U-M holds its first Survivors Day celebration


Ken Pienta, MD
Ken Pienta, MD

Team of U-M researchers, led by Ken Pienta, M.D. (pictured right) receive Prostate Cancer Specialized Program in Research Excellence (SPORE) grant

Cancer AnswerLine begins, providing personalized information about cancer to the community from registered oncology nurses

U-M is a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of the world's leading cancer centers dedicated to improving the quality and effectiveness of cancer care


Nine-story building opens to house clinics and laboratories devoted to cancer and geriatrics care and research

Coach Carr


U-M football coach Lloyd Carr initiates Women’s Football Academy, which originally raised money for the breast cancer program

image of the Cancer Center building

2002 to 2006

Gregory Wolf, MD
Dr. Gregory Wolf, MD


Team of U-M researchers, led by Gregory Wolf, M.D. receive Head and Neck Cancer SPORE grant


U-M researchers publish first paper identifying cancer stem cells in breast cancer, the first example in a solid tumor. Researchers believe these cells are resistant to current chemotherapies and radiation.

image of bottles of Bexxar

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves Bexxar as a new therapy to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

The Cancer Center's Center for Health Communications Research is designated a Center of Excellence in Cancer Communications Research by the National Cancer Institute

Karen Hammelef with a patient[+]
Karen Hammelef, RN


U-M researchers identify a "gene fusion" that occurs in about half of prostate cancer. This becomes the building block for developing personalized, molecularly targeted prostate cancer treatments


Cancer Center building becomes totally devoted to cancer

The Cancer Center begins offering infusion services at the U-M Canton Health Center, bringing cancer treatment into the community

The UM Canton Health Center

2007 to 2010

Diane Simeone, MD
Diane Simeone, MD, led the pancreatic stem cell team
Dia de la Familia Latina


U-M researchers are first to identify stem cells in pancreatic cancer and head and neck cancer

U-M initiates Dia de la Familia Latina, an annual health fair aimed at Latina families.


image of nurses in the Ravitz Center[+]
Ravitz Center Phase I/Translational Research Center

Ravitz Center Phase I/Translational Research Center opens, providing a dedicated resource for evaluating novel cancer therapies

U-M named Blue Distinction Center for Complex and Rare Cancers as part of a national program by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association

U-M initiates the Men's Fellowship Breakfasts, a series of morning events held several times a year to promote health and wellness information

U-M initiates annual Hats and High Tea for Breast Cancer Awareness


image of the East Ann Arbor breast cancer surgery[+]
East Ann Arbor breast cancer surgery


Stand up to cancer

U-M researchers Max Wicha and Arul Chinnaiyan named to new Stand Up to Cancer breast cancer "dream team"

Breast cancer surgery moves to a new suite at the East Ann Arbor campus that locates pathologists on-site in the operating suite to assess tumors and lymph nodes immediately upon removal. This reduces the need for second surgeries.



image of the Gastrointestinal SPORE team
Gastrointestinal SPORE Team

Cancer Center administrative staff and researchers are among the first to move into space at the 174-acre North Campus Research Complex, which the University purchased from Pfizer Corp.

Team of U-M researchers receive Gastrointestinal SPORE grant

U-M offers series of Pap screenings in communities around the state


2011 to present



Adult and pediatric bone marrow transplant and pediatric cancer care moves to new C.S. Mott Children's Hospital

Cancer Center creates the Patient and Family Advisory Board to act as an advisory resource committee to the administration, faculty and staff of the cancer program


Sunitha Nagrath, Ph.D.[+]
Sunitha Nagrath, Ph.D., member of the Translational Oncology Program

U-M researcher Arul Chinnaiyan named co-principal investigator on $10 million prostate cancer "dream team" grant from Stand Up to Cancer and the Prostate Cancer Foundation

Translational Oncology Program is created with the goal of harnessing the Cancer Center's expertise in basic science research to speed the translation into clinical trials and new treatment opportunities for cancer patients



Reshma Jagsi, MD[+]
Reshma Jagsi, MD, a member of CanSORT

Cancer Surveillance and Outcomes Research Team receives $13.6 million award from the National Cancer Institute to examine how physicians and patients make treatment decisions

U-M implements Focus on Women, a series of seminars addressing various health and wellness issues for women across the lifespan




U-M joins the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium, a collaboration of cancer programs at Big Ten universities, in an effort to transform cancer research through collaborative oncology trials that leverage the scientific and clinical expertise of those universities.

log for the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium


Dr. Theodore Lawrence

Dr. Theodore Lawrence named director of University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

"This is a tremendous program with talented and dedicated faculty and staff, a terrific research infrastructure and superb core facilities," says Lawrence, who will assume the title of Max S. Wicha, M.D., Distinguished Professor of Oncology. He is also chair of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan Medical School.


The University of Michigan received a $17.5 million commitment for cancer research from Madeline and Sidney Forbes of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. This gift will create the Forbes Institute for Cancer Discovery within the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. The goal of the Forbes Institute will be to encourage scientists across the university to undertake high-risk, high-reward initiatives with the potential to drive new advances in cancer research. It is the largest private donation for cancer research in the school’s history.

Dr. Eric Fearon

Dr. Eric Fearon named director of University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

"Our Cancer Center has a history of success, with many exciting recent and ongoing initiatives. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue moving us forward,” says Fearon, professor of internal medicine, human genetics and pathology at the University of Michigan.