A National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

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Our History

The City of Hope Story
Since its inception in 1913 as a tuberculosis sanatorium started by the Jewish Consumptive Relief Association of California (JCRA), City of Hope has grown to become one of the most renowned medical institutions in the country, with a legacy of providing compassionate patient care and the best treatments available. In fact, City of Hope has pioneered many of the medical breakthroughs in the treatment of tuberculosis, cancer, diabetes, HIV-AIDS and other life-threatening diseases that are now considered standard medical practice.

The City of Hope story begins in 1913, when a poor young tailor, alone and in pain, collapses and dies from tuberculosis on a Los Angeles sidewalk. Saddened by the tragedy and spurred by compassion to help others in need, volunteers establish the JCRA and raise money to start a free, nonsectarian tuberculosis sanatorium. With almost $2,500 raised at a benefit concert at Temple Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles, the JCRA puts a down payment on 10 acres of sun-drenched land in Duarte, where they would establish the Los Angeles Sanatorium a year later. The sanatorium consists of two tents—one for patients and the other for a nurse. So begins a century-long journey that will place City of Hope at the forefront of the nation’s medical institutions.

1913 - 1940s

Officially chartered in 1913, the JCRA opens the Los Angeles Sanatorium.

The Jewish Ex-Patients Home helps discharged tuberculosis patients with health education, job training and ongoing emotional and spiritual support. The Ex-Patients Home merges with the Los Angeles Sanatorium in 1928.

The JCRA holds its first national convention in May.

The deepening Depression adversely affects fundraising efforts. But the Hollywood film community, particularly Warner Bros., broadly supports the efforts of the sanatorium with fundraising events and donations. The Warner Memorial Clinic is dedicated in March.

The International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union contributes $45,000 toward the construction of the 64-bed Morris Hillquit Memorial Hospital. The finished building is dedicated in 1938, the sanatorium’s 25th anniversary year. 

Streptomycin is isolated by Dr. Albert Schatz, Ph.D., at Rutgers University, resulting in the first antibiotic treatment for tuberculosis.

With tuberculosis on the wane, Executive Director Samuel L. Golter outlines a plan to transform the sanatorium into a national medical center focused on cancer and other major diseases.

The Los Angeles Sanatorium changes its name to City of Hope—A Jewish National Medical Center. The name will change again, in 1953, to City of Hope—A National Medical Center under Jewish Auspices.

1950 - present

City of Hope partners with University of California, Los Angeles to establish the Cancer Research Institute on the Duarte campus.

The so-called “cobalt bomb,” a radiation therapy machine developed by City of Hope scientists, is put into operation. The cobalt bomb delivered radiation to malignancies deep within the human body.

Executive Director Ben Horowitz unveils a master plan for a Pilot Medical Center that calls for enlarging patient care, research and medical education facilities, and for modernizing the physical plant. Horowitz’s vision includes pilot research and treatment programs in heart, blood and chest diseases, cancer and leukemia.

City of Hope’s Rachel Ayers, R.N., establishes the Department of Nursing Research to study and improve nursing practices.
President Richard M. Nixon declares the “War on Cancer” and authorizes $1.5 billion for cancer research over the next three years.

The Bone Marrow Transplantation program (BMT) accepts its first patients. The BMT program will grow to become one of the largest and most successful transplantation programs in the country.

Recombinant DNA techniques pioneered by City of Hope’s Arthur Riggs and Keiichi Ikatura lead to the development of synthetic human insulin (Humulin).

City of Hope changes its name again to City of Hope National Medical Center.

The research of John Rossi, Ph.D, and John Zaia, M.D., leads to an innovative use of ribonucleic acid (RNA) as a potential therapy to block the progress of the virus that causes AIDS.

The National Cancer Institute designates City of Hope as a Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The National Institutes of Health designates City of Hope as an Islet Cell Resource Center, one of only 10 in the country.

The Betty and Irwin Helford Clinical Research Hospital opens, replacing Hillquit Hospital. The Helford Hospital maximizes the human side of patient care and significantly increases City of Hope’s capacity for surgical procedures and programs such as the BMT.

Sheri Biller becomes chair of the City of Hope board of directors. She is the first woman to hold the top volunteer position. The City of Hope Medical Foundation is established.

City of Hope celebrates its 100th anniversary.

City of Hope Archives

City of Hope Archives collects, preserves and manages the records, papers, photographs and artifacts of enduring value that document the century-long history of this acclaimed institution.

Using the Archives
The Archives encourages the public’s interest and inquiries into its holdings for research and general information. Archival records do not circulate.

Donating Materials
The Archives collects and preserves materials related to the history of City of Hope. We welcome hearing from those who have materials they wish to donate.

To donate non-returnable historical materials, please contact Susan Yates, Archives Program Manager at syates@coh.org.
Welcome to City of Hope
City of Hope is a new model of cancer center, focused on rapidly transforming scientific discoveries into better treatments and better prevention strategies for cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases.

About City of Hope
City of Hope Locations

Learn about the talented individuals who are leading City of Hope towards the next horizon of treatments and cures for life-threatening diseases.

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City of Hope's institutional distinctions, breakthrough innovations and collaborations.
  • For breast cancer survivors, a common worry is a recurrence of their cancer. Currently, these patients are screened with regular mammograms, but there’s no way to tell who is more likely to have a recurrence and who is fully cleared of her cancer. A new blood test – reported in Cancer Research, a journal of the...
  • Metastasis — the spreading of cancer cells from a primary tumor site to other parts of the body — generally leads to poorer outcomes for patients, so oncologists and researchers are constantly seeking new ways to detect and thwart this malicious process. Now City of Hope researchers may have identified a substa...
  • Deodorant, plastic bottles, grilled foods, artificial sweeteners, soy products … Do any of these products really cause cancer? With so many cancer myths and urban legends out there, why not ask the experts? They can debunk cancer myths while sharing cancer facts that matter, such as risk factors, preventi...
  • Cancer risk varies by ethnicity, as does the risk of cancer-related death. But the size of those differences can be surprising, highlighting the health disparities that exist among various ethnic groups in the United States. Both cancer incidence and death rates for men are highest among African-Americans, acco...
  • George Winston, known worldwide for his impressionistic, genre-defying music, considers music to be his first language, and admits he often stumbles over words – especially when he attempts languages other than English. There’s one German phrase he’s determined to perfect, however: danke schön. Winston thinks h...
  • Few decisions are more important than those involving health care, and few decisions can have such lasting impact, not only on oneself but on relatives and loved ones. Those choices, especially, should be made in advance – carefully, deliberately, free of pain and stress, and with much weighing of values and pr...
  • Using a card game to make decisions about health care, especially as those decisions relate to the end of life, would seem to be a poor idea. It isn’t. The GoWish Game makes those overwhelming, but all-important decisions not just easy, but natural. On each card of the 36-card deck is listed what seriously ill,...
  • Young adults and adolescents with cancer face unique challenges both during their treatment and afterward. Not only are therapies for children and older adults not always appropriate for them, they also must come to terms with the disease and treatment’s impact on their relationships, finances, school or ...
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer, other than skin cancer, among women in the United States. It’s also the second-leading cause of cancer death, behind lung cancer. In the past several years, various task force recommendations and studies have questioned the benefits of broad screening guidelines fo...
  • Paternal age and the health effects it has on potential offspring have been the focus of many studies, but few have examined the effect parental age has on the risk of adult-onset hormone-related cancers (breast cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer). A team of City of Hope researchers, lead by Yani Lu,...
  • Hormone therapy, which is prescribed to women for relief of menopausal symptoms such hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness, has recently seen a decline in popularity (and use) due to its link to an increased risk of breast and endometrial cancer. But City of Hope researchers have found that menopausal h...
  • Myeloproliferative neoplasms can’t be narrowed down to a single cancer, but they can be described by a defining characteristic: too many blood cells. The diseases bring with them a host of frustrating, potentially life-altering symptoms, and management of the diseases and their symptoms is crucial. An upcoming ...
  • More than 18,000 researchers, clinicians, advocates and other professionals will convene at the 105th American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting taking place in San Diego from April 5 to 9. With more than 6,000 findings being presented over this five-day period, the amount of information can...
  • Cancer of the prostate is the No. 2 cancer killer of men, behind lung cancer, accounting for more than 29,000 deaths annually in this country. But because prostate cancer advances slowly, good prostate health and early detection can make all the difference. Many prostate cancer tumors don’t require immedi...
  • Despite advances made in detecting and treating nonsmall cell lung cancer, its prognosis remains grim. Even patients whose cancers are caught at their earliest stage have only a 50 percent chance of five-year survival. This poor prognosis is due in part to the cancer’s ability to resist treatment, renderi...