Roswell Park, M.D.

See also: Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Section H in Buffalo's Forest Lawn Cemetery

Dr. Park  ...  Edward H. Butler Sr.,  founder of The Buffalo Evening News
Photos source: UB Reporter: 110 Years Ago  (online October 2016)

After coming to Buffalo in 1883 to serve as chairman of the University of Buffalo Medical School, Dr. Park began to focus more intently on the mystery of cancer. He realized that well-organized scientific research was rapidly conquering some of the most feared diseases of his time, including cholera, tetanus, diphtheria, and typhoid fever.

As deaths from those diseases fell, cancer started to climb the list as a leading cause of death in the U.S. By the end of the 19th century, it claimed more lives than smallpox, typhoid, and tuberculosis combined. Dr. Park predicted that the number of cancer cases would continue to rise around the world — and he was right.

Park wanted to create an institute dedicated solely to the study of cancer and equipped with modern tools to understand and control it: “The knowledge and skill of the pathologist, the biologist, the chemist, and the physician must be combined…and the surgeons must join actively in the cooperative work in one dedicated setting,” he said.

The following year he rallied the power of the press with the support of Buffalo Evening News Editor Edward H. Butler and other editors around the state. Under pressure in an election year, Gov. Black finally saw the light, approving an act of the New York State Legislature that provided a $10,000 grant for “faculty [and] the equipment and maintenance of a laboratory to be devoted to an investigation into the causes, nature, mortality rate and treatment of cancer.” Named the New York State Pathological Laboratory of the University of Buffalo, the institute was housed in the U.B. Medical School on High Street.

Over the years, Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) has operated as:
  • The University of Buffalo Pathological Laboratory (1898)
  • The Gratwick Research Laboratory (1900)
  • The State Institute for the Study of Malignant Diseases (1912)
  • Roswell Park Memorial Institute (1946)
  • Roswell Park Cancer Institute (1992)
- Excerpts:  Editorial team, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Imagining the World’s First Cancer Center.  February 22, 2016 (online October 2016)

Dr. Park moved to Buffalo from his hometown of Chicago in 1883 to serve as Professor of Surgery at the University of Buffalo. He was instrumental in the design of the Hospital Building on the Pan-Am grounds, but was in Niagara Falls, NY, when President McKinley was shot.

Dr. Park was present at the Wilcox Mansion for the Inauguration of Theodore Roosevelt, and subsequently established the first cancer research in the world.

Page by Chuck LaChiusa
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