Charles B. Huggins

The University of Chicago

September 22, 1901 - January 12, 1997


Election Year: 1949
Scientific Discipline: Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology
Membership Type: Member

Charles B. Huggins is often referred to as the father of modern-era chemotherapy because he was the first to discover that cancer cells are dependent on chemical signals. He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1966 for his work with the endocrine-induced treatment of cancer. He found that the female sex hormone estrogen could stunt prostate cancer growth. He also studied regression factors of male sex hormones in breast cancer proliferation. Before Huggins made his breakthrough in cancer research, treatments were limited to surgery and radiation. These advancements lead to the development of the first chemotherapy drugs, which helped to improve the quality of life for many cancer patients.

Huggins attended Acadia University, where he earned his BA degree in 1920. In 1924 he earned his MD from Harvard University and began his internship at the University of Michigan Hospital, where he remained until 1926, when he became an instructor of surgery at the University of Michigan for one year. The University of Chicago became his home for the remainder of his academic career.

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