The Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research (JFCR) is a non-governmental, non-profitorganization founded in 1908. The first president was Dr. Katsusaburo Yamagiwa,who is world-famous for his achievement in the first experimental production oftar cancer in rabbit ears, played the principal role in establishing the organization.It was the age when the disastrous aspect of cancer was not well-recognized socially,the main thrust of attention being concentrated on the combat against the overwhelmingproblems of infectious diseases. After a quarter century of tough fund-rasingstruggles, largely carried out by Dr. Mataro Nagayo, Professor of Pathology andlater President of the University of Tokyo, the first Cancer Research Instituteand Hospital in Japan were set up in 1934 at the present location. Soon afterthe opening, the JFCR had the good fortune to receive a very large donation of1 million yen from the Mitsui group to purchase 5g of radium and the Hospitalbecame one of 5 largest facilities in the world for cancer radiotherapy. Therejoined the fame for cancer surgery largely due to the efforts of an extraordinarysurgeon Dr. Tamaki Kajitani. Thus the Cancer Institute Hospital of JFCR rapidlybecame a Mecca for cancer patients from all over the Japan. Since this was theonly professional and comprehensive center of cancer research and treatment inJapan for many years until the Aichi Cancer Center and the National Cancer Centerwere established in 1961 and 1962, respectively, it was simply called the CancerInstitute (Gann-ken) and the Cancer Institute Hospital without any geographicalor other designation, and this name has been maintained to the present day.
In April 1945 at the end of World War II, all the facilities were completely destroyedby bombing and fire. However, after the war, the activity of the Hospital wasimmediately resumed in 1946 at a purchased hospital in Ginza.
The Institute was also reopened in 1948 under the directorship of Dr. Waro Nakahara,a biologist and chemist known for his discovery of the carcinogenicity of 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide.When he subsequently moved to the National Cancer Center as its Director in 1962,many scientists who gained experience in the Cancer Institute followed him tocontribute to the development of the new facility. In 1963, Dr. Tomizo Yoshida,world-famous for azodye-induced experimental hepatocarcinogenesis, became the4th Cancer Institute Director. In his period in office, in collaboration withDr. Toshio Kurokawa, Director of the Hospital, and Mr. Hiroshi Anzai, Chairmanof the Board of Directors, and also very fortunately coinciding with an unprecedentedperiod of economical prosperity in Japan, the Cancer Institute and the adjoiningHospital could be completely renewed and enlarged to essentially its present form.In 1973, Dr. Yoshida passed away just before the opening of the new Cancer ChemotherapyCenter, for which establishment he had been a major motivating force. The Directorshipsof the Cancer Institute and the Cancer Chemotherapy Center were then taken overby Dr. Haruo Sugano and Dr. Yoshio Sakurai, respectively.
It was the time when molecular approaches were gradually gaining popularity inthe field of cancer research. Rapidly introducing this new trend under the directorshipof Dr. Sugano, the Cancer Institute produced a succession of epoch-making advancesin subsequent years, including the cloning, sequencing and clarification of interferonand interleukin-2 (Dr. T. Taniguchi), the human T cell leukemia virus (Dr. M.Yoshida), cytochrome p-450 (Dr. Y. Fujii), drug resistant p-glycoprotein (Dr.T. Tsuruo) and the APC gene (Dr. Y. Nakamura). When the American magazine Sciencemade a special feature on OBasic Science in JapanO in 1992, The Cancer Instituteof JFCR was among several Omost productive and most cited institutions of theworld, 1981-1991. Then came a rush of invitations to professorship from leadingnational universities resulting in an extensive renewal of the staff by the beginningof the '90s.
Thereafter, the Cancer Institute quickly resumed young energy and talent againas already evidenced by the discovery and characterization of the TSC-2 gene responsiblefor hereditary renal cell carcinoma of the Eker rat (Dr. Hino) as well as Smad6,a inhibitor of signaling by the TGF-fA superfamily (Dr. K. Miyazono), success ininduction of mouse colon cancers by conditional knockout of the APC gene (Dr.T. Noda), elucidation of HBVX-protein in terms of mitochondrial injury (Dr. K.Koike) and production of bioactive new proteins by an innovative Molcraft method(Dr. K. Shiba).
Being small in scale, the Cancer Institute has always featured excellent interdepartmentalcollaboration between research scientists. The Institute and Hospital have alsoenjoyed a close relationship from the initial days onwards. Thus a large bodyof research data on cancer diagnosis, characterization and treatment has beenaccumulated as highly important source of information through the collaborativeefforts of clinical doctors and institute pathologists. The concept of "earlycancer" of the stomach and the uterine cervix stemmed from such cooperation. From 2000 on, the Institute, Hospital, Cancer Chemotherapy Center and Cancer Precision Medicine Centerhave been working vigorously in close cooperation to establish a system for individualizedcancer treatment.