For original use of aminopterin and methotrexate in the control of acute childhood leukemia, and for his constant leadership in the search for chemical agents against cancer.
In recognition of his success in converting the early hopelessness and defeatism of physicians and medical scientists toward cancer into vigorous and productive research. His original research contributions have shown that various types of cancer can be affected by drugs, and this has helped to inspire all chemotherapy research in cancer since.
Dr. Farber has also exerted inestimable influence nationally on cancer research in his role in the development of the Cancer Chemotherapy National Service Center; as a member of the National Advisory Cancer Council, the National Advisory Health Council, and the President’s Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke; and as a persuasive advisor to the Congressional Committees. He has brought to the attention of the American people for their enlightenment and support the needs and the rewards of cancer research and intensive patient care.
In 1947, Dr. Farber discovered that the folic acid antagonists aminopterin and methotrexate consistently, though temporarily, produced remissions in children with acute leukemia. These were the first drugs to produce remissions in acute leukemia—a disease then invariably rapidly fatal.
In 1955, he produced for the first time a chemical regression of Wilms’ tumor, the common cancer of the kidney in children. The chemical was actinomycin D. Dr. Farber and his associates have successfully used this antibiotic in the prevention of metastases and recurrences of Wilms’ tumor. They have further combined this chemical treatment with small doses of radiotherapy to completely destroy the tumor even after it has spread to the lungs—a situation previously incurable.
A substantial percentage of children are alive and completely well for many years—the longest now for more than 11 years after this combined treatment had been given.
To Dr. Sidney Farber, distinguished pathologist, gifted clinical investigator, dedicated physician, and respected medical statesman, this 1966 Albert Lasker Clinical Research Award is given.