Remembering James F. Holland, MD

James F. Holland, MD, died March 22 at age 92. Dr. Holland is best known for leading large-scale research that demonstrated the efficacy of chemotherapy. He laid the groundwork for the treatment of countless diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma, and breast and lung cancers.

He began his career in the 1950s at the National Cancer Institute, where he built on the research of Lloyd Law, PhD, who found that mice with leukemia responded better to drugs given in combination compared with drugs given in sequence. Working with other oncology researchers, Dr. Holland evaluated combination chemotherapy for children with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). At the time, only 30 percent of patients survived an ALL diagnosis; now, the survival rate for the disease is higher than 80 percent. For his work, Dr. Holland received the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award, which cited his leadership in establishing Acute Leukemia Group B, an international research consortium.

Dr. Holland went on to become chief of oncology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. He also established a department of neoplastic diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where he was a distinguished professor until the time of his death. He was also president of the American Association for Cancer Research in 1970 and president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology from 1976 to 1977. In later years, he joined Emil Frei III, MD, in co-editing the textbook Holland-Frei Cancer Medicine and helped found the African Organization for Research & Training in Cancer.

He is survived by six children and nine grandchildren.

Sources: The Washington Post, March 25, 2018; The New York Times, March 27, 2018.