Giants of Cancer Care® Program Inductees


Donald P. Pinkel, MD

Founding Director and CEO, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (retired)

  • Donald P. Pinkel, MD, led the development of multimodal therapy for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), resulting in one of the first significant cure rates for cancer.
  • Dr Pinkel became the first director and CEO at St. Jude in 1961. At his insistence, the hospital accepted all patients regardless of race, ethnicity, or ability to pay, and the hospital staff was fully integrated.
  • There was no curative treatment for pediatric ALL when Dr Pinkel published 5-year data from the Total Therapy study in JAMA in 1971. Using chemoradiotherapy, his team eventually achieved a 50% cure rate. A modified version of the 4-phase treatment plan is still used today, with St. Jude reporting a cure rate of up to 94%.
  • Dr Pinkel noted that many of his patients were malnourished, which had a negative effect on survival rates. In response, he created the program that eventually became the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, better known as WIC.
  • In 1972, Dr Pinkel shared the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research with other physician scientists, including several previous Giants of Cancer Care® award winners, in recognition of their work developing combination chemotherapy regimens for lymphoma and ALL. He received the Charles F. Kettering Prize in 1986 and the Pollin Prize for Pediatric Research in 2003.
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