History and Vision
Founded in 1997, Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) was spawned by a vibrant vision — to create the most productive cancer research center in the world. There simply was no better place than Boston to launch such an endeavor. For five decades, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) had built a reputation as a center of excellence, culminating in being named one of the nation’s premier Comprehensive Cancer Centers by the National Cancer Institute.
But other institutions in the Harvard medical community also had exceptional programs in cancer care, research, education, and the basic sciences. In fact, several of the seven institutions that eventually launched the DF/HCC consortium — Harvard Medical School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Massachusetts General Hospital — had already begun to work together in adult and pediatric cancer care. All of these hospitals’ physicians and scientists held Harvard faculty positions. Additionally, laboratory researchers delving into the genetics and molecular biology of cells were finding it critical to share vast amounts of knowledge and state-of-the-art facilities. It only made sense to organize the Harvard cancer research effort into one powerful enterprise.
Since its inception, DF/HCC’s growth has been enormous. In addition to the Comprehensive Cancer Center funding, annual cancer-related grants to member institutions have risen to more than $600 million. The greatest increase in grants has been in the multi-institutional category — a testament to the intense activity created by the DF/HCC consortium.
Together, DF/HCC researchers are reaching new milestones in science. Hundreds more patients are being enrolled in clinical trials. Innovative programs — clinical-, discipline-, and population-based — are expanding the field of knowledge and serving the public good. Shared facilities are resulting in cost efficiencies and scientific archives crucial to conducting world-class research. As its vision expands into new areas, DF/HCC actively nurtures its leadership role, driven by the hope and promise of a world without cancer.