Charlotte D. Jacobs: Henry Kaplan and the Story of Hodgkin's Disease

Conversations with History - Charlotte Jacobs

Charlotte D. Jacobs, Shenson Professor Emeritus of Medicine in the Division of Oncology at the Stanford School of Medicine.


Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs, M.D., for a discussion of the development of a cure for Hodgkin's lymphatic cancer. Tracing her decision to become a medical oncologist, Dr. Jacobs characterizes the challenges of being both an oncologist and biographer. She then traces the history of Hodgkin's disease including the contributions of scientists who identified the cancer, its distinctive pattern of moving through the lymph system, and other clues that led to a cure. Focusing on the career of Stanford's Dr. Henry Kaplan, she describes the qualities that established his leadership as a scientist, clinician, and inventor. She identifies the ways in which his interdisciplinary focus and organizing skills impacted research, teaching, and treatment of cancer including his adaptation of Stanford's linear accelerator into a medical device that could destroy cancer cells. Dr. Jacobs discusses the qualities of mind and spirit that characterize oncologists. She also points to the role of serendipity in leading to breakthroughs using as a case study chemotherapy, especially the work of Dr.Vincent DeVita in developing the combination drug (MOPP) used in the treatment of Hodgkins Disease. Finally, Dr. Jacobs discusses lessons of Henry Kaplan's career and the story of Hodgkin's disease for the future of cancer research.

KEYWORDS: Healing. 

Charlotte D. Jacobs
Publication date: 
August 8, 2010
Publication type: 
Conversations with History