Donald Pinkel, who developed a treatment for childhood leukemia and helped establish the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, has died, according to the Washington Post. He was 95.
When Pinkel began his career, acute lymphocytic leukemia had a fatality rate of 96 percent, which the New York Times adds may have been an underestimate. It notes that there were some treatments that lead to disease remission, but that the disease almost always came back. But in the 1960s Pinkel developed a treatment regimen called Total Therapy, which included strong doses of chemotherapy, radiation, and drugs given straight to the spinal column, and led to a 50 percent cure rate, according to the Post.
It adds that other doctors at the time were skeptical, but that one critic, Alvin Mauer, eventually came around and succeeded Pinkel as the director at St. Jude's. Today, childhood leukemia has a five-year survival rate of 94 percent, according to the Post.
Pinkel was the first employee and director of St. Jude, joining in 1961, the Post adds. It notes that he helped shape the hospital, which was founded by the actor Danny Thomas.