Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Location New York City, NY, United States
Funding Non-profit hospital
Hospital type Specialist
Affiliated university Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences
Emergency department Urgent care center
Beds 471
Speciality Cancer
Founded 1884[1] (as New York Cancer Hospital)
Lists Hospitals in the United States
Other links Hospitals in New York
The original New York Cancer Hospital,[2] built between 1884 and 1886, now housing, at 455 Central Park West and 106th Street in Manhattan.
The relocated Memorial Hospital building, built between 1936 and 1939, standing on its present location on York Avenue

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK or MSKCC) is a cancer treatment and research institution in New York City, founded in 1884 as the New York Cancer Hospital.[3] Its main campus is located at 1275 York Avenue, between 67th and 68th Streets, in Manhattan.


1884-1934: New York Cancer Hospital

Memorial Hospital was founded on the Upper West Side of Manhattan[2] in 1884 as the New York Cancer Hospital by a group that included John Jacob Astor III and his wife Charlotte.[4] The hospital appointed William B. Coley as an attending surgeon, who pioneered an early form of immunotherapy to eradicate tumors.[5] Rose Hawthorne, daughter of author Nathaniel Hawthorne, trained there in the summer of 1896 before founding her own order, Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne.[6] In 1899, the hospital was renamed General Memorial Hospital for the Treatment of Cancer and Allied Diseases.[7]

Around 1910 James Ewing, a professor at Cornell University's medical college, established a collaboration with Memorial Hospital with the help and funding of industrialist and philanthropist James Douglas, who gave $100,000 to endow twenty beds for clinical research, equipment for working with radium, and a clinical laboratory for that purpose.[8] Douglas' enthusiasm and funding for development of radiation therapy for cancer inspired Ewing to become one of the pioneers in developing this treatment.[8] Ewing soon took over effective leadership of clinical and laboratory research at Memorial.[8] In 1916 the hospital was renamed again, dropping “General” to become known simply as Memorial Hospital.[9] The first fellowship training program in the US was created at Memorial in 1927, funded by the Rockefellers.[10] In 1931 the then-most-powerful 900k-volt X-ray tube was put into use in radiation-based cancer treatment at Memorial; the tube had been built by General Electric over several years.[11] In 1931 Ewing was formally appointed president of the hospital, a role he had effectively played until then,[8] and was featured on the cover of Time Magazine as "Cancer Man Ewing";[12] the accompanying article described his role as one of the most important cancer doctors of his era.[13] He worked at the Memorial until his retirement, in 1939.[14] Under his leadership, Memorial became a model for other cancer centers in the United States, combining patient care with clinical and laboratory research,[10] and it was said of him that "the relationship of Ewing to the Memorial Hospital can best be expressed in the words of Emerson, 'Every institution is but the lengthening shadow of some man.' Dr. Ewing is the Memorial Hospital".[8]

1934-1980: Memorial Hospital and the Sloan Kettering Institute

In 1934, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. donated land on York Avenue for a new location.[15] Two years later, he granted Memorial Hospital $3,000,000 and the hospital began their move across town.[16] Memorial Hospital officially reopened at the new location in 1939.[17][18] In 1945, the chairman of General Motors, Alfred P. Sloan, donated $4,000,000 to create the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research through his Sloan Foundation, and Charles F. Kettering, GM’s vice president and director of research, personally agreed to oversee the organization of a cancer research program based on industrial techniques.[19] The originally independent research institute was built adjacent to Memorial Hospital.[19]

In 1948 Cornelius P. Rhoads became the director of Memorial. Rhoads had run chemical weapons programs for the US army in World War II, and had been involved in the work that led to the discovery that nitrogen mustards could potentially be used as cancer drugs.[20]:91–92 He fostered a collaboration between Joseph H. Burchenal, a clinician at Memorial and Gertrude B. Elion and George H. Hitchings at Burroughs Wellcome, who had discovered 6 MP; the collaboration led to the development and eventual wide use of this cancer drug.[20]:91–92[21]

From the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s Chester M. Southam conducted pioneering clinical research on virotherapy and cancer immunotherapy at MSK; however he conducted his research on people without their informed consent. He did this to patients under his care or others' care, and to prisoners.[22][23] In 1963 some doctors objected to the lack of consent in his experiments and reported him to the Regents of the University of the State of New York which found him guilty of fraud, deceit, and unprofessional conduct, and in the end he was placed on probation for a year.[22][23] Southam's research experiments and the case at the Regents were followed in the New York Times.[24][25][26][27][28]

In 1960, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center was formed as a new corporation to coordinate the two institutions; John Heller, the former director of the National Cancer Institute was named its president.[29] At the end of the 1960s, as the field of pediatric oncology began seeing success in treating children with cancer, Memorial opened an outpatient pediatric day hospital, partly to deal with the growing number of cancer survivors.[30] In the early 1970s, Burchenal and Benno Schmidt, a professional investor and trustee of MSK, were appointed to the presidential panel that initiated the U.S. federal government's War on Cancer in the early 1970s.[20]:184 When Congress passed the National Cancer Act of 1971 as part of that effort, Memorial Sloan Kettering was designated as one of only three Comprehensive Cancer Centers nationwide.[31] In 1977, Jimmie C. Holland established a full-time psychiatric service at MSK dedicated to helping people with cancer cope with their disease and its treatment; it was one of the first such programs and was part of the creation of the field of psycho-oncology.[32][33]

1980-onward: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

In 1980 Memorial Hospital and the Sloan-Kettering Institute formally merged into a singular entity under the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center name.[18]

In 2000, former NIH director Harold Varmus became the director of MSK.[34] During his tenure, he helped build new facilities, strengthened the bond between MSK's clinical and research arms, and fostered collaborations with other institutions, including Weill-Cornell Medical College and Rockefeller University.[34]

Craig B. Thompson, oncologist and researcher, was appointed MSK’s president and CEO in 2010.[35] The following year, MSK was rated the third most successful nonprofit in terms of FDA-approved drugs and vaccines, behind the National Institutes of Health and the University of California system.[36] In 2012, Thompson appointed José Baselga as physician-in-chief, who directs the clinical side of MSK.[37] That same year, a collaboration with IBM’s Watson was announced with the goal of developing new tools and resources to better tailor diagnostic and treatment recommendations for patients.[38] The director of SKI, the research arm of MSK, Joan Massagué was appointed in 2013.[39]


In 2015 Charity Watch rated Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center an "A."[40] Heads of the charity received $2,107,939 to $2,639,669 salary/compensation from the charity. CEO Craig B. Thompson received $2,554,085 salary/compensation from the charity.[40]

U.S. News & World Report voted MSK as the number 2 cancer facility in the US for 2015-2016.[41]

Associated facilities and programs

Bendheim Integrative Medicine Center

The Memorial Sloan Kettering Bendheim Integrative Medicine Center occupies 1425 First Avenue on the corner of East 74th Street in Manhattan. The former bank was built in the 1930s by Perkins and Will as architects. It was remodeled for use by Memorial Sloan Kettering in 1997.[42]

In 2005, the Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences was opened at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, with the goal of furthering research by introducing students to an interactive and innovative environment.[43]

The Tri-Institutional MD–PhD Program is a partnership of MSKCC, The Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and Cornell University. The biomedical program takes advantage of the close proximity of these three institutions for collaboration on biomedical research and Cornell's MD–PhD program. The Tri-Institutional Training Program in Computational Biology and Medicine is a similar partnership.


  1. "Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center". Americas's Best Midsize Employers. Forbes.
  2. 1 2 Barbanel, Josh. "Would an Aardvark Live Here?" The New York Times, September 17, 2006. Accessed December 31, 2009.
  3. "The New York Cancer Hospital: laying the corner-stone of a much-needed institution". The New York Times. 18 May 1884. Retrieved 4 February 2016. (subscription required (help)).
  4. Abel, Emily K. (2013). The inevitable hour: a history of caring for dying patients in America. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 6667. ISBN 978-1421409191. OCLC 808769549.
  5. Coley to Cure:The Story of the Cancer Research Institute. Cancer Research Institute. 2014. pp. 12–13. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  6. Smith, Fran; Himmel, Shiela (2013). Changing the Way We Die: Compassionate End of Life Care and The Hospice Movement. Berkeley, California: Cleis Press. p. 23. ISBN 9781936740604. OCLC 839388370.
  7. "SESSION OF THE SENATE.; Bills Passed and Introduced and Routine Business Transacted.". The New York Times. 16 February 1899. Retrieved 27 February 2016. (subscription required (help)).
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 Murphy, James B. (1951). "James Ewing 18661943" (PDF). Biographical Memoirs. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences.
  9. "Memorial Hospital for the Treatment of Cancer and Allied Diseases Thirty First Annual Report for the Year 1915". p. 19.
  10. 1 2 Wilkins, Sam A. Jr. (25 Feb 1970). "James Ewing Society, 1940-1969: Presidential Address" (PDF). pp. 321–323. PMID 4905156.
  11. "900,000-VOLT TUBE TO COMBAT CANCER: Largest X-Ray Device of Kind Being Built by General Electric for Hospital Here". New York Times. 1 Mar 1931. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  12. Time Magazine Cover, January 12, 1931
  13. Cancer Crusade. Jan 12, 1931. Time Magazine 17(2):26
  14. Brand, RA (Mar 2012). "Biographical sketch: James Stephen Ewing, MD (1844-1943)". Clin Orthop Relat Res. 470 (3): 639–41. doi:10.1007/s11999-011-2234-y. PMC 3270161Freely accessible. PMID 22207564.
  15. "Rockefeller Gives Block to Institute". New York Times. 28 Dec 1934. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  16. "Rockefeller Provides $3,000,000 to Build Cancer Hospital Here". New York Times. 28 Apr 1936. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  17. "THE MEMORIAL HOSPITAL". New York Times. 16 Jun 1939. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  18. 1 2 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, History & Milestones. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website..
  19. 1 2 "Sloan, Kettering to Combat Cancer; Studying Sketch of Proposed Cancer Research Institute". The New York Times. August 8, 1945. p. 1 (cont'd p. 40).
  20. 1 2 3 Mukherjee, Siddhartha (2010). The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. New York. ISBN 978-1439170915.
  21. Katherine Bouton for the New York Times. January 29, 1989 The Nobel Pair
  22. 1 2 Skloot, Rebecca (2010). The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: Crown/Archetype. pp. 127–135. ISBN 9780307589385.
  23. 1 2 Mulford, R.D. (1967). "Experimentation on Human Beings.". Stanford Law Review. 20 (1): 99–117. doi:10.2307/1227417.
  24. Times, Special To The New York (15 June 1956). "14 Convicts Injected With Live Cancer Cells". The New York Times.
  25. Times, Richard J. h Johnston Special To The New York (15 April 1957). "Cancer Defenses Found to Differ; Tests Indicate Victims Lack Some Mechanisms That Well Human Being Has Cancer Recurred Deficiency Is Noted Warning by Southam". The New York Times.
  26. Osmundsen, By John A. (26 January 1964). "Many Scientific Experts Condemn Ethics of Cancer Injection". The New York Times.
  27. Plumb, Robert K. (22 March 1964). "Scientists Split on Cancer Tests". The New York Times.
  28. "Ruling is Upset on Cancer Test". The New York Times. 8 July 1964.
  29. "U.S. Aide to Head Cancer Center: Dr. John R. Heller, Cured of Disease, to Assume New Sloan-Kettering Post". New York Times. 19 Apr 1960. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  30. Johnson, Rudy (3 Dec 1972). "Parents Are on Team at Memorial's Day Hospital for Children With Cancer". New York Times.
  31. Marks, Paul; Sterngold, James (2014). On the Cancer Frontier: One Man, One Disease, and a Medical Revolution. PublicAffairs. p. 91. ISBN 1610392523.
  32. "Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Annual Report, 1977". p. 22.
  33. Rosenthal, Elizabeth (20 Jul 1997). "Scientist at Work: Jimmie Holland; Listening to the Emotional Needs of Cancer Patients". New York Times. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  34. 1 2 "The Harold Varmus Papers: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 2000-2010, and National Cancer Institute, 2010-2015". Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  35. "Craig Thompson Named President of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center | Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center". August 10, 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
  36. Stevens, AJ; Jensen, JJ; Wyller, K; Kilgore, PC; Chatterjee, S; Rohrbaugh, ML (10 February 2011). "The role of public-sector research in the discovery of drugs and vaccines.". The New England Journal of Medicine. 364 (6): 535–41. doi:10.1056/NEJMsa1008268. PMID 21306239.
  37. "Center names physician-in-chief". HemOnc Today. 10 Nov 2012.
  38. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Annual Report, 2013. p. 5.
  39. Barajas, Carlos (26 Nov 2013). "El español Joan Massagué, al frente del Sloan-Kettering de Nueva York". El Mundo.
  40. 1 2 "Charity Ratings". Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  41. "U.S. News & World Report Releases 2015–16 Best Hospitals". US News & World Report. 21 July 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  42. Norval White; Elliot Willensky; Fran Leadon. AIA Guide to New York City. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
  43. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Annual Report, 2005. p. 3.

External links

Coordinates: 40°45′51″N 73°57′25″W / 40.764096°N 73.956842°W / 40.764096; -73.956842

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