History of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Sidney Farber, MD, with a young patient

In 1947, Sidney Farber, MD, founded the Children's Cancer Research Foundation, dedicated to providing compassionate, state-of-the-art treatment to children with cancer while developing the cancer preventatives, treatments, and cures of the future.

The foundation officially expanded its programs to include patients of all ages in 1969, and in 1974 became known as the Sidney Farber Cancer Center in honor of its founder. The long-term support of the Charles A. Dana Foundation was acknowledged by incorporating the Institute under its present name in 1983.

The Institute Today

Today, the Institute employs more than 5,000 staff, faculty, and clinicians supporting more than 640,000 annual outpatient visits, more than 1,000 hospital discharges per year, and has over 1,100 open clinical trials. Dana-Farber is internationally renowned for its equal commitment to cutting edge research and provision of excellent patient care. The deep expertise in these two areas uniquely positions Dana-Farber to develop, test, and gain FDA approval for new cancer therapies in its laboratories and clinical settings. Dana-Farber researchers have contributed to the development of 35 of 75 cancer drugs recently approved by the FDA for use in cancer patients.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, a federally designated Center for AIDS Research, and a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, a federally designated comprehensive cancer center. Dana-Farber also maintains affiliations with several schools of nursing in the Boston area.

Providing advanced training in cancer treatment and research for an international faculty, the Institute conducts community-based programs in cancer prevention, detection, and control throughout New England, and maintains joint programs with other Boston institutions affiliated with Harvard Medical School and Mass General Brigham, including Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dana-Farber is supported by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the generous support of numerous foundations and individuals who contribute to the Institute's individual research and clinic programs or to the Jimmy Fund, the principal charity of the Institute, named for one of its child patients.


75 Years. One Mission.

As we mark Dana-Farber's 75-year anniversary, we can take pride that we are anchored by the core principles of Sidney Farber's mission: To make scientific discoveries and turn them into life-saving treatments.


Hear Dr. Sidney Farber

Listen to Dr. Sidney Farber's 1951 presentation on "Newer Agents in the Treatment of Acute Leukemia."

Read the transcript of Dr. Farber's talk