Dec 26, 2019
Dr. Hayes interviews Dr. Young about his time with CHOP and MOPP
Dr. Daniel F. Hayes is the Stuart B. Padnos Professor of Breast Cancer Research at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center. Dr. Hayes’ research interests are in the field of experimental therapeutics and cancer biomarkers, especially in breast cancer. He has served as chair of the SWOG Breast Cancer Translational Medicine Committee, and he was an inaugural member and chaired the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Tumor Marker Guidelines Committee. Dr. Hayes served on the ASCO Board of Directors, and served a 3 year term as President of ASCO from 2016-2018.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this podcast is to educate and to inform. This is not a substitute for professional medical care and is not intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of individual conditions. Guests on this podcast express their own opinions, experience, and conclusions. The mention of any product, service, organization, activity, or therapy should not be construed as an ASCO endorsement.
Dr. Hayes: Welcome to JCO's Cancer Stories, The Art of Oncology, brought to you by the ASCO Podcast Network, a collection of nine programs, covering a range of educational and scientific content, and offering enriching insight into the world of cancer care. You can find all of the shows, including this one, at podcast.asco.org.
Welcome to Cancer Stories. I'm Dr. Daniel Hayes. I'm a medical oncologist and translational researcher at the University of Michigan, Rogel Cancer Center. And I've also had the pleasure of being past president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
I'm privileged to be your host for a series of podcast interviews with people I consider the founders of our field. Over the last 40 years, I've really been fortunate to have been trained and mentored and inspired by many of these pioneers. It's my hope that through these conversations we can all be equally inspired by gaining an appreciation of the courage, the vision, and also the scientific understanding that led these men and women to establish the field of clinical cancer care over the last 70 years. By understanding how we got to the present and what we now consider normal in oncology, we can also imagine and we can work together towards a better future for our patients and their families during and after cancer treatment.
Today, my guest on this podcast is Dr. Robert Young. Among many designations he has, my favorite I think for Dr. Young is that he was considered one of the, quote, "gang of five," end of quote, I think self-named, who were responsible for developing the first curative chemotherapy regimen for Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas at the National Cancer Institute in the early 1970s.
Dr. Young is currently president of RCY Medicine, a private consulting firm based in Philadelphia. He was raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he couldn't get into the University of Michigan. So he went to a second-rate community college in Columbus called Ohio State. My bosses made me say it that way, Bob, here at the University of Michigan.
Dr. Young: Not the correct way, The Ohio State University.
Dr. Hayes: So he received his MD then at Cornell in 1965, followed by an internship at the New York Hospital. He spent the next two years as a clinical associate in the medicine branch at the National Cancer Institute. And then he completed his residency in medicine at Yale New Haven Medical Center. In 1970, he returned to the NCI, where he stayed for the next 18 years, serving during most of that as the chief of the medicine branch. Dr. Young accepted the role as president of the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia and served in that role and then chancellor in 2009.
Dr. Young has authored over 400 peer reviewed papers regarding a broad range of both scientific and policy issues in oncology. But in addition to the I consider astonishing and precedent-setting reports of cures in Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, perhaps most importantly with his longtime colleague and friend Dr. Robert Ozols, he led many of the early and groundbreaking studies in ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatment that I think still guide our care today for patients with this disease.
He's won too many awards and honors for me to go through. But of the major ones, he won the prestigious Bristol-Myers Squibb award, which he shared with Dr. Ozols in 2002, the Margaret Foley Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research from the American Association of Cancer Research, and ASCO's Distinguished Service Award, one of our highest awards, for Scientific Leadership in 2004. Of note and close to my own heart, Bob served as the ASCO president 1989/1990, which I consider a really critical time in the evolution of our society. Dr. Young, welcome to our program.
Dr. Young: Thank you.
Dr. Hayes: So as I noted, you grew up in Columbus, Ohio, or again, as we say in Ann Arbor, that town down south, but more importantly that your father was a surgeon. And I've heard you tell the stories as a boy you went on rounds with him and that inspired it. Was he academic or was he a really community physician or both?
Dr. Young: Well he was a little of both. He was primarily a community physician. But he did, particularly at the time of the Second World War, because he was a very skilled hand surgeon, he got involved with a lot of hand surgery related to a company called North American Aviation that produced a lot of World War II planes. And there were a lot of injuries in that setting. And so he became quite a skilled hand surgeon and actually taught at Ohio State's Medical Center. So he had both an academic and community-based practice. But primarily he was a practicing community surgeon.
Dr. Hayes: And did you actually go into the OR with him as a boy?
Dr. Young: Oh, yeah. Oh, sure.
Dr. Hayes: Wow.
Dr. Young: You know, in those days, there weren't any rules and regulations about that. And so I went in and watched surgery and held retractors and participated, you know, when I was a youngster.
Dr. Hayes: Wow. What a privilege. You're right, that would not be allowed now. That's a good story. What did you see, bad and good, compared to medicine now then. I mean, if you had to say here are a couple things that we've lost that you regret.
Dr. Young: Well, I think that it was more under the control of the physician than it is in this day and age in so many ways. For instance, my father practiced in three different hospitals. And he admitted patients depending upon what kind of surgical support and nursing support they needed. If they were complex, he went to a bigger hospital. If they were very straightforward cases, he put them into a smaller hospital. And so he had a lot more control over how his patients were dealt with and the circumstances under which they were cared for.
And, of course, most of his practice was before Medicare and all of the insurance sort of thing, so that people paid what they could pay. And so it was a much simpler and much more physician-driven practice than it is today.
Dr. Hayes: Just as an aside, there's a wonderful book called The Brothers Mayo, written by a woman named Clapesattle in the 1930s after both Charlie and Will died. And it's a history of the Mayo Clinic. But in it, she says that Will basically charged people what they could afford to pay. So if you were wealthy, he charged you a lot. And if you were poor, he gave it to you for free and everything in between. And he sort started made up the billing schedule the way he wanted it to happen. And one of his more wealthy patients challenged him on this, and he said, go somewhere else.
Dr. Young: Yeah, well, that's exactly the kind of practice my father ran.
Dr. Hayes: Yeah. Anyway, I'm intrigued by year two-year stint at the NCI in the late '60s before you then went back and finished at Yale. And hopefully this is not insulting and I know you're considered one of the so-called yellow berets. But tell me, tell us all about your choice to interrupt your residency and go to the NIH. I don't think our young listeners really understand the political climate and the circumstances of the time that led so many of you to go there.
Dr. Young: Well, I think that's a great question, because it will lead to some of the other discussions we have later. But essentially, I graduated from medical school in 1965 at the height of the Vietnam War. And in those days, there was not only a general draft, there was a physicians draft. So graduating in medical school in those days, you had one of three choices. You could either take your chances-- and again, the numbers, your priority scores at the time, didn't really have anything to do with it, because they took as many doctors of whatever kind of type they wanted for whatever purpose they wanted. So that you couldn't be sure if you had a low number that you'd not be drafted. But you could take your chance. And in those days, a lot of people did. And a lot of people got drafted. Or you could join the Berry Plan, which was at the time an opportunity to continue your specialty training until you were finished. But then you owed back the military the number of years that you had been in specialty training. Or you could do a much less well-known track and that is with the US Public Health Service. And amongst the opportunities for the US Public Health Service were things like the Indian Health Service and the Coast Guard Service and those sorts of things, or the National Institutes of Health, about which at the time I knew almost nothing except that it existed. And I owe it to some of the folks that I worked with at Cornell, primarily a hematologist oncologist by the name of Dick Silver, Richard Silver, who's still at practice at New York Hospital, who when I was working in the labs there, because I was doing some research when I was at Cornell, and they were telling me about the fact that you could actually apply for a position at the NIH. And you would be in the US Public Health Service. So it took me about 3 milliseconds to figure out that for me that was clearly a track that I wanted to explore. And I had done some research in platelet function and platelet kinetics and so forth. And there was a guy by the Raphael Schulman who is at the NIH at the time. And I said, that would be a miracle if I could get this. So the way it worked was that you applied. And then you actually interviewed with a whole bunch of different people. And as it turned out, I didn't get a position with Dr. Schulman. But I was introduced to the National Cancer Institute and both the leukemia service and the then called the solid tumor service. And I applied to various things like that. And I actually got in on the leukemia service. So I walked in after I signed up and was taking care of little kids with acute leukemia, having never been a pediatrician or knowing anything about leukemia. But it was a baptism of fire and a very exciting place even then.
Dr. Hayes: I want to get back to that in a second because that's a critical part of this. But, again, going back to the political climate, my opinion, this entire issue and your personal journey and many others had a profound effect on both the scientific and medical community of this country as a whole. I think it was an unintended effect. But because of the Vietnam War and because the NIH was such a great place to train in those days. Do you agree with me?
Dr. Young: You are absolutely correct. I mean, one of the things that needs to be said is that this was a transformational phenomenon for cancer research. But it also took place in every other field. And the NIH at the time was just swarming with people of all medical disciplines who were coming to take advantage of the opportunities that existed within the NIH, but also to serve in this capacity as opposed to some of the alternatives that were around. And I think I heard a figure one time, which I'm sure is true, and that is at one point in time, 30% of the chairmen of medicine in the United States had done training at the NIH before they ended up being chairmen of medicine. So that gives you an idea of the impact of this. And you're absolutely right, it was a totally unintended consequence. Nobody ever designed it that way. Nobody ever planned for it to happen that way. But in retrospect, when looked at it and you can see exactly why what happened happened.
Dr. Hayes: Yeah. And I interrupted you, but I did it on purpose, because it didn't sound to me like you really had a plan to go into cancer treatment, but sort of landed there serendipitously. Is that true? I mean how do you end up there?
Dr. Young: Oh yeah, oh, yeah, I mean I did get very interested in hematology when I was in medical school. I first went to medical school, of course, thinking I was going to be a surgeon, because my father had a great practice and he had a wonderful experience with surgery and it was really cool. But I just found that I just wasn't designed just the same way. And it was increasingly clear that cancer was not my not my goal-- I mean, surgery was not my goal. And so, you know, I knew I wanted to stay in internal medicine. And I got interested in the research. And I had done some significant research and in platelet function, as I said. I knew that's what I wanted to do, some sort of clinically-related research in medicine. If I'd had my choices, of course, I would have gone into a sort of pure hematology track. And, of course, it's worth saying that it's difficult for oncologists nowadays to understand how big an outlier oncology was. There was no subspecialty in oncology at the time I went to train down there. There was a subspecialty in hematology. And, of course, all of us, the Gang of Five that you mentioned, all of us took hematology boards. And that's because it wasn't clear that there was going to be oncology. When oncology came along we all took the first oncology boards ever given. So that gives you an idea of how early in the history of oncology we were in the late '60s, early 1970s.
Dr. Hayes: So we're talking 1970 or so right when you started?
Dr. Young: Well, 1967 to '69, I was a clinical associate. Then I was at Yale for a year. And then in 1970, I came back on the senior staff.
Dr. Hayes: And who were the characters above you when you came in? I know Doctors Frei and Freireich had been there before.
Dr. Young: Yes. Frei and Freireich had just left the year before. One went off to MD Anderson, the other went off to the Memorial. And George and Vince-- George Cannellos, Vince DeVita-- had stayed on, with Vince as the head of the medicine branch. And then when we came back, Vince sort of brought two of us back that he'd had before, Bruce Chabner and I. He'd sort of sent us off to Yale and said they could buff us up a little bit. And he didn't offer us a job coming back. But we went off, and we were training up there. And he called us both up and says, why don't you to come back and join the senior staff. He recruited Phil Schein as well. And so that was the Gang of Five that we started out. Four of us ended up being president of ASCO at one time or another. And I suspect the only one who didn't, Bruce Chabner, probably would have except for the fact that he was the director of the Division of Cancer Treatment of the NCI for a long time. And the NCI and the NIH changed its attitude toward allowing people to participate in major leadership positions nationally, a tragedy as far as I'm concerned, which has I think affected the morale of the NIH and a lot of other things and deprived a lot of good people of opportunities to serve nationally. But that was the way it was, otherwise we would all ended up at some point leading--
Dr. Hayes: So the Gang of Five was you Bruce Chabner, George Cannellos, Phil Schein, and Vince DeVita, right?
Dr. Young: Right, exactly.
Dr. Hayes: And what were the dynamics among you? I mean, so were you and--
Dr. Young: Well, I mean, it was an incredible time. You know, there was enormous talent that had poured into the NIH, as we talked before. And an enormous amount of talent was present and was recruited in during this period of time. I mean, you know, Paul Carbone was still there. John Minna was recruited. Harman Ayer, who was the longtime chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. Tom Waldman was a world class hematologist. Max Wicha was a part of this group. Sam Broder, Allen Lichter, an other ASCO president, Steve Rosenberg, Phil Pizzo was the head of the pediatric oncology branch, now dean at Stanford. And it goes on and on and on. And so there's a massive amount of talent and a lot of freedom. And so Vince was clearly the leader, he had a lot of ideas and a lot of creativity. But he let out a lot of people do whatever they wanted at the same time. And it was sort of a situation in which we all participated, because we were all attending at the same time. So Vince and George did a lot of the lymphoma and Hodgkin's disease stuff. We all participated. I got interested in ovarian cancer. And you talked about that. Bruce Chabner and Phil Schein were always very pharmacologically oriented. And so they did a lot of the phase 1 and phase 2 trials and a lot of the laboratory backup associated with the studies we did. And everybody shared. And so there was really not a lot of competition in that sense. Everybody was I think very competitive. Because it was all sort of shared, it worked out so that everybody felt that they were getting a substantial part of the recognition that was going on in the group. Another thing that was unusual about the NIH, but it had unintended, but important consequences is that nobody had anything to do with what they got paid. So that you could go to events and say, well, you know, I deserve to be paid more, but it didn't have anything to do with what you got paid. We had no control over anybody's salary. So that I don't think the whole time I was there, the whole 14 years I was chief of the medicine branch, I don't think I ever had a conversation with anybody about money, because I didn't have anything to do with what people got paid. Let me tell you, that's a big change. It actually has a remarkable, remarkable effect on the way people work. Because if for some reason somebody wanted to make more money, they just had to leave. There wasn't any way to do it. So you either had to accept that this is what everybody got paid and that you were rewarded by the opportunities to do the kinds of research that were done. Or you said, look, I need to go on and go somewhere else.
Dr. Hayes: Now, just between you and me, and maybe a few thousand other people who are listening to this, who is the first guy to say let's give combination chemotherapy to Hodgkin's disease?
Dr. Young: Well, actually, I don't know the answer to that. I think if I had to guess, I would say Vince, because Vince and George had been around in the Frei and Freireich days. And of course, you know, they'd already had experience with the impact of combination chemotherapy in leukemia. And so the concept was you took drugs that were active in the disease and put them together if they had different kinds of toxicity. And you were then able to utilize the combined impact on the tumor and sort of spread around the toxicity. So it was more tolerable. And that was the concept. And I think that because Vince and George were treating chronic leukemias and treating Hodgkin's disease, the notion of combining it with combinations was pretty straightforward evolution from the experience in leukemia. There are other people who claim that. I think from time to time both Jay Freireich and Tom Frei have claimed it. I think that there was a dust up between Vince and Paul Carbone and George because there was some suggestion by somebody that Paul was the one who originated the idea or Gordon Zubrod. And quite frankly, I don't know. If I knew, I would tell you. But I don't actually know. I can tell you this, that the emotional and passionate driver of the concept of combination chemotherapy as a successful modality in Hodgkin's disease and lymphoma was Vincent.
Dr. Hayes: Your answer is very consistent with what other people have said the same thing. It must have been somewhere along the line that all of you began to see that there really were cures. And did you realize, as a group, that you were making history? Or was it just day to day--
Dr. Young: Well, you know, it's interesting. I can tell you one of the most transformational experiences that I had in the early days is, of course, we were following all these patients who had started on MOP. And so to do that you had to sort of go back and pull out the charts and all this kind of stuff. You know, we didn't have electronic systems that had all the stuff recorded. You just had to go down and pull off the charts. And what struck me so tremendously was the attitude of the physicians that had first started some of these patients on this therapy, because the notes made it very clear that they were sort of flabbergasted when these people came back after the first couple of months and they were watching their disease disappear, and that they really didn't anticipate at all, initially, that they were going to see these people after a couple of weeks. And it was very clear in the notes. By the time we had gotten there, of course, there were a significant number of people already on the trial. And it was already clear that we were seeing things that nobody had ever seen before. And I think that's when it first began to dawn on everybody. And as soon as we saw it in Hodgkin's disease based on the experience that we'd seen with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, we had a suspicion that it would likely be the case as well there.
Dr. Hayes: So you already bounced across it, but as I was looking through your CV I knew this anyway, you really mentored a who's who of oncology-- Rich Schilsky, Dan Longo, Max Whishaw, Dan Van Hoff-- and you noted already that oncology training has evolved. I mean BJ Kennedy pushed through boards I think in '74 or '75, something around there. What have you seen in the evolution on oncology training that you think is good or bad?
Dr. Young: Oh, I think in general, it's much better. And I think it's much better because, of course, there's a lot of success that's been built into what's been accomplished. And that makes it a lot easier to teach people about how to treat Hodgkin's disease well, than we ever could at the time we were doing it because nobody knew the answer to those things. And I think there's also a lot more of it. You know, I think at the time we were at the NIH, you know, I think credibly you could count on both hands the number of really established academic oncology programs in the United States. And now, there are probably 100. And so the quality of training and the quality of mentoring is dramatically better than it was in those days. In those days, you know, hematologist we're doing most of the treatment of cancers. And they were all sort of in the Sidney Farber mode. You take one drug, and you give it as long as it works. And then you switch to another drug and use that as long as it works. And that was pretty much the way hematologists approached the disease. And by all means, you don't cause any toxicity.
Dr. Hayes: I picked up several adults who had been Sidney Farber's patient when I was at the Dana-- Sidney Farber Cancer Institute in those days in the early '80s. So I had his handwritten notes. And sadly, I did not photocopy them. I would have love to have had it. But he had a very different mindset in terms of the way--
Dr. Young: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. And as far as I can tell, this is just my own personal reaction, is that I don't think either George or Vince at the time we got here shared any of that attitude. George is a little more cautious than Vince, as everybody knows. But neither one of them for a minute ever suggested that we were being too aggressive, that it was unfair and immoral to treat people with these kinds of toxicities, not that they desired to make people sick. But they were absolutely convinced that aggressive therapy could make a dramatic difference in the natural history of these diseases.
Dr. Hayes: Yeah, certainly, Dr. Frei felt that way too.
Dr. Young: Yes. And well, they were his mentors. I mean, you know, all these guys were there at the same time. And they were all influencing one another.
Dr. Hayes: You know, it's amazing, I think all of us-- there are 44,000 members of ASCO now-- basically are derived from about 10 people in the 1950s and '60s, most of the DNA, not completely-- Karnofsky and some others around, but--
Dr. Young: Oh, yeah.
Dr. Hayes: Well, the other thing is actually, you were talking about the safety, what are the war stories? I mean, how did you give chemotherapy? Were you guys mixing it up and giving it yourself? You know, we got all these bells and whistles.
Dr. Young: Well, I mean, for instance, you know this is the first time really protocols were written. And the reason that we wrote protocols was simply because we were working with fellows. And they literally needed the recipe of what it was they were supposed to give and when. And so we wrote up these what were the first of the clinical trial protocols. There was no formal informed consent at the time of these studies. We had, of course, informed consent, the same way you do informed consent now, really. And that is you talk to the patient. You explain to the patient what the treatment is and what your expectations for the treatment are. And the patient understands the disease they face and decide that they can do it or not do it. And it's actually still the same today. The only difference is we now have 14, 17-page informed consent documents that make lawyers happy, but don't really impact, at least in my view, whether patients decide to participate or not. But we didn't have those. So I think that was the other one of the great things about the setting at the NIH, not that I'm anti-informed consent, but it was simpler. It was easier to get something done. You could do unconventional treatment and nobody looked at you and said, "you can't do that, that's never been done before, you're not allowed to do that." We didn't have academic constraints. One of the things that always surprised me is when, you know, we would develop a particular technique, like peritoneoscopy or laparoscopy for ovarian cancer staging, and when guys left the program having been well-trained to do this, they couldn't do it when they went to their new institutions because gastroenterologists did this. That was the sort of thing that the constraint wasn't here. There were also very easy-- I mean, all you had to do was to get an idea and write it up. I took a look at ovarian cancer and said, you know, "It seems to me, here's a disease that's now being managed by gynecologic oncologist. Internists never see these patients. They're all treated with the melphalan. And those that happen to live a long time develop acute leukemia from that treatment. They ought to be something better than what we're doing." And so we just decided that we would begin to take patients with advanced ovarian cancer into the NIH. And the rest sort of is history. But you couldn't do that in another hospital. You know, the biggest treaters of ovarian cancer probably program-wise was MD Anderson. But all his patients were treated by gynecologic oncologists. You couldn't have gone into the MD Anderson and said, "OK, we're going to take over the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer." They would have laughed in your face.
Dr. Hayes: Actually, you just segued into my next question. And again, you and Dr. Ozols, in my opinion, completely changed the course of ovarian cancer treatment. Did you get a lot of pushback from the gynecologic community?
Dr. Young: Well, no, actually. It's interesting. Now I don't know what we got behind the lines, you know when they were all sitting around the bar after the meetings. We really didn't. First of all, one of the other advantages of being at the NIH is that when you said something, people listened. And the other thing is, of course, when we got really going with ovarian cancer-- this was after the passage of the National Cancer Act-- and there was money at the NIH. So one of the things we did, for instance, was to put on a series of symposia about ovarian cancer treatment, what was going on, what wasn't going on, and brought the movers and shakers of this field together in meetings and talked about what was being done and what should be done and what information we didn't have that we needed. And we actually got funded for a period of time, a group called the Ovarian Cancer Study Group, which eventually evolved into the Gynecologic Oncology Cooperative Group, National Cooperative Group. So we had some other tools that we could bring to bear to drum up an interest in new research in ovarian cancer. And, of course, gynecologic oncologists couldn't prevent us from taking patients that were referred to us. And our surgeons, for instance, none of whom were gynecologic oncologists, were happy to help and to operate on them when they needed to be operated on. And Steve Rosenberg's group has fantastic surgeons. So we didn't have any problem getting state of the art surgery done on these people. And, in fact, they are general surgeons learned some gynecologic oncology at the same time.
Dr. Hayes: Yeah, you know, it's been interesting to me that the surgeons, the general surgeons, willingly gave a systemic therapy. But that still in this country, there are very few medical oncologist who do GYN oncology. It's still mostly done by GYN oncologists.
Dr. Young: Yes.
Dr. Hayes: And there are very few trained medical oncologist in this. And I think it's gotten too complicated for a surgeon to do both. I don't really see why that hasn't happened based on, especially your model and Bob's model, that's my own soapbox.
Dr. Young: Yeah, that's an interesting point, because at the NIH, when we were there, Steve Rosenberg and Eli Gladstein in radiation therapy, there were no rules that said that they couldn't do chemotherapy. And, in fact, they did it sometimes. And we didn't say anything about it. Usually, they called on us and said, hey, look, you know, we need you to help us or participate with us or whatever. But there were no rules that said that they couldn't. And sometimes they did. But for the most part they said, "look, this is not the business we're in. We want you guys to do the chemotherapy." And so for the most part we were able to do that.
Dr. Hayes: The entire NSABP, those guys were all given their own surgery, their own chemotherapy. And they ultimately handed most of it over to medical oncology through the years. But that's not happened so much in GYN. OK, I want to go into your role in ASCO at the end here. And as I noted, I think you were president during a really critical turning point for the society. And just a few things, you already mentioned that I think you were already at Fox Chase when you ran. So you'd left NCI. And what made you run? But more importantly, tell us about your role in the evolution at that time of the society.
Dr. Young: I think actually they recruited me to run just at the time that I was looking to leave. And so I left in December of 1988. And I was president of ASCO 1989 to 1990. At the time, I had moved from the medicine branch and ran the cancer center's program for a year. And I decided that I liked it. I thought, well, maybe I'll just stay here for the rest of my life, the way Steve Rosenberg did and others have done very successfully. But I said, well, you know, it's either sort of now or never. And so I decided that I would make the jump. But when I got into the sort of ladder, if you will, of ASCO through the board and so forth, it became clear that there were a couple of things that were a real challenge for the society. The society had at the time for the most part been essentially run on contract, that there was no organization of ASCO at all. It was it was all run by a contract organization. And it was clear that we had grown to a size such that we really needed to begin to recruit our own leadership staff. And so my year as president was actually the first year we hired a full-time employee. And she was based in a law firm that we used for ASCO legal business. But that was the first employee ever hired by ASCO. And that was in 1990, or 1989, I don't remember which, put in that year anyway. The other thing that was going on, which was critical for the society, is that, of course, there's always been a 'town gown' challenge in all aspects of medicine. And medical oncology was no different. So it had originally been the province of academic oncologists. But the numbers began to change dramatically. And it became clear that there was an enormous number of community-based oncologists, who looked at the challenges that face the organization somewhat differently than the academics. And this is one of the things that I think I benefited from growing up with a father that had both his feet in the community-based practice and the academic practice. And I realized how private practicing physicians view academics and view academic control of organizations. And I realized-- and others did too. I wasn't alone on this-- that we really needed to build up the recognition of community-based oncology as a first class citizen in the society. And so we began to create and bring in all of these state society organizations. And we began to get leadership roles who were based in community oncology, rather than just academics. And Joe Bailes was our first head of the Public Relations Committee of the society and grew this into a national presence and became the first community-based president of ASCO. So I think I think those are the two things that I saw that hopefully I made an impact on. And it always amazes me to realize that the society was really that young. I mean, people can't believe that it's just, what, 30 years ago when we had our first employee.
Dr. Hayes: Yeah, that's why I'm doing these podcasts. We make sure we get this history. You know, it's interesting, I often give you credit for the ladder. As president myself, it was made very clear to me that 90% of the patients in this country with cancer are treated by community oncologists, maybe 85% or so. And about 2/3 of our membership are community oncologists. So we now have designated seats on the board of directors. We started a Department of Clinical Affairs that Steve Grubbs is running. That's just a few years old. But, boy, it's been fabulous. We now have a designated chair, the state affiliate council is invited to the board of directors and sits in and presents. And the state affiliate councils meets at ASCO headquarters at least once a year. And we've had a couple presidents who are, besides Joe, Doug Blayney and Skip Burris now coming in in June. So I think we've been reaching out. It always struck me when I sat in the headquarters, the seven founding members were, for the most part, community people. They met just to talk about how do you give chemotherapy. It wasn't, you know, about Tom Frei or Freireich or Jim Holland. It was folks in the community. And then it grew into an academic society. And I think you and then Joe Bailes and others kind of brought us back and grounded us. And to me, that's a really critical evolution in our society. I think it's made us much stronger.
So those are most of my questions. You've answered almost everything I had written down that I always wanted to ask you if I got a moment in a cab with you. I want to thank you for taking time to do this. But more importantly, I want to thank you for all the contributions you have made to the field. I mean, I don't think I would be here and I don't think most of us who do oncology would be here if it weren't for you and the Gang of Five and the things you've done, both by the courage to moving forward to giving the kinds of chemotherapy and stuff, establishing science in the field, but also the policy stuff. Your articles in The New England Journal over the years, I think have been classics. You should put this all in a book and send them out to everybody because they have to do with not just giving chemotherapy, but the whys and hows of what we do. So I know I'm being long-winded, but that's because I'm a big fan. Well, thank you very much.
Dr. Young: You know one of the things, I got to say is that I've just been a very lucky person. I happened to have had great opportunities. And I think I was able to take advantage of those opportunities. But somebody gave me those opportunities and put me at the right place at the right time. And so I am a very lucky guy.
Dr. Hayes: Well, and I want to finish up and say how nice it is to see at least one graduate of Ohio State University do well. You know, it doesn't come very often. So congrat--
Dr. Young: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah The team up north, the team that will not be named, yes.
Dr. Hayes: Thank you so much. And appreciate all you've done. Again, appreciate your taking time with us.
Dr. Young: Thank you very much, Dan.
Dr. Hayes: Until next time, thank you for listening to this JCO's Cancer Stories, The Art of Oncology podcast. If you enjoyed what you heard today, don't forget to give us a rating or review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listened. While you're there, be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode. JCO's Cancer Stories, The Art of Oncology podcast is just one ASCO's many podcasts. You can find all the shows at podcast.asco.org.