Targeted Therapies Transform Care

Brian Druker, M.D., director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, helped pioneer the field of precision medicine with his work to help develop Gleevec®, one of the first highly targeted cancer drugs that proved this treatment approach was possible.

The development of Gleevec ― and other precision therapies that have followed it ― have changed the course of countless lives. This treatment advance has also transformed the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute by attracting significant philanthropic support as well as some of the world's top scientists and physicians.

Timeline for advancing precision medicine

Here are some notable events in the institute's history as it has strived to develop better treatment options for cancer patients:



Brian Druker, M.D., launches Phase I of the clinical trial for STI571 (which would later become Gleevec).

Brian Druker - Early Research June



Phase II of the STI571 clinical trial begins.

December 1999



Phase III of the STI571 clinical trial begins.


Fifty Gleevec research abstracts (summaries) are presented at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting.

Brian Druker - Early Research



Gleevec is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. Gleevec is later approved for nine more types of cancer diagnosis.

Brian Druker - Early Research



Brian Druker, M.D., wins the Lasker-DeBakey Award for Clinical Medical Research, widely regarded as the most prestigious research award in the United States.



Following a $100 million gift from Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny, the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute announces that it will use the donation to further its mission to make personalize cancer therapy a reality.


OHSU Knight Cancer Institute recruits Joe Gray, Ph.D., an internationally recognized leader and innovator in genomics and cancer research.



Lisa Coussens, Ph.D., joins the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to continue her research into the role of immune cells in cancer.



Sancy Leachman, M.D., Ph.D., is recruited to serve as the new chair of the Department of Dermatology and director of the Melanoma Research Program at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.


OHSU enters a collaboration with Intel to decode the root causes of cancer and other complex diseases. The collaboration blends Intel’s expertise in extreme-scale computing and OHSU’s biomedical imaging and genomics expertise.


The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society launch Beat AML, a groundbreaking collaboration to improve outcomes for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).



OHSU and FEI expand their collaborative agreement to deploy advanced microscopy to better understand complex diseases such as cancer. OHSU/FEI Living Lab for Cell Biology will contribute to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s goal of enabling early detection of lesions destined to become lethal cancer.



Raymond Bergan, M.D., is appointed associate director of medical oncology for the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. Bergan, formerly of Northwestern University, is an internationally regarded specialist known for breakthrough research into how cancer cells spread.


OHSU meets Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife Penny’s challenge by raising $500 million in less than two years to earn the Knights’ matching gift and set a fundraising record.



Nanotechnology expert Sadik Esener, Ph.D., whose achievements range from developing diagnostic biochips to creating nanoscale cancer-fighting “smart bullets” that deliver treatments to tumor cells, was recruited to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to lead the first large-scale early cancer detection program of its kind.


OHSU breaks ground on its new cancer research building. The $160 million facility, funded by an investment from the state of Oregon, will reside north of the Collaborative Life Sciences Building on the South Waterfront.