James Holland, who the New York Times calls a "founder father of chemotherapy," has died. He was 92.
Holland and his colleagues tackled cancer treatment in the 1950s by giving patients a cocktail of chemicals, rather than one after another, according to the Times, which notes that this led others to dismiss them as "cowboys." But, it adds, that when they began their work, less than a third of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia survived a year, while now about 90 percent survive. Holland also conducted a clinical trial that established the standard of care for acute myeloid leukemia.
Holland told the Times in 1986 that this did lead to a trial-and-error approach to treating patients. "If you do no harm," he said, "then you do no harm to the cancer, either."
Holland, who worked at the National Cancer Institute, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, shared the 1972 Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award and served as president of both the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
"Jim Holland is one of the founding fathers of cancer chemotherapy," Vincent DeVita Jr., the former director of the Yale Cancer Center, tells the Times. "His work confirmed the curative potential of combination chemotherapy."