History of the Division

Begun as separate divisions in the 1940s-1950s and merged in the 1990s, the Division of Hematology/Oncology is part of the Department of Medicine and the specialty service leading the organization of the Henry Ford Cancer Institute.

Timeline of Hematology and Medical Oncology Development


Cancer research started at Henry Ford Hospital by physician-in-chief Dr. Frank J. Sladen and surgeon-in-chief Dr. Roy D. McClure. They provided community lectures on the danger of smoking in collaboration with the American Cancer Society.


John Rebuck, M.D., Ph.D., became chief of the Division of Laboratory Hematology in the Department of Pathology.

Raymond W. Monto, M.D., founded the Division of Hematology in the Department of Internal Medicine. He served as Division Head until 1978 and retired after 50 years of service in 1989.


Dr. Rebuck was the first to report the intracellular crystallization sequence of sickle cell hemoglobin.


Dr. Rebuck founded a national program in hematology for the American Society of Clinical Pathologists.

Michael J. Brennan, M.D., former staff member in the Hematology Division in 1951-1952, returned from the Korean War to found the Division of Oncology in the Department of Internal Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital. A researcher in breast cancer, he remained Division Head for 12 years.


Dr. Rebuck developed the “human-skin-window” procedure, a state-of-the-art test to monitor a patient’s ability to fight infection by directly examining functioning white blood cells in a man-made “window” in the skin of the forearm, which was covered by a glass slide to which the adherent WBCs could be examined over time under a microscope. This technique became the laboratory method for students researching the inflammatory process and was also used clinically to monitor the immune system in ulcerative colitis, diabetes mellitus, allergy, and human organ transplant rejection.


Henry Ford Hospital hosted an oral cancer symposium with the Michigan Department of Health, the Michigan State Dental Association, and the Detroit District Dental Society. The final lecture was presented by Dr. Michael Brennan, Division Head of Oncology.


Dr. Michael Brennan left Ford Hospital to become President and Medical Director of the Michigan Cancer Foundation. The Foundation later became the Karmanos Cancer Center.


Ellis J. Van Slyck, M.D., became Division Head of Hematology. A staff physician since 1957, he co-directed the weekly Hematology-Hematopathology Conferences from 1978-1987.


Robert M. O’Bryan, M.D., was appointed Division Head of Medical Oncology. He served in this role from 1982-1984 and from 1986-1989.


Dr. Raymond Monto received the prestigious Michigan Laureate Award from the American College of Physicians for his commitment to excellence in the health care field. He conducted extensive research in pernicious anemia and cancer.


Nalini Janakiramen, M.D., established the Bone Marrow Transplant Program. The program later performed Michigan's first peripheral blood stem cell transplant and now regularly performs some of the most complex stem cell transplants in the country, including cord blood.


Robert Chapman, M.D., became Division Head of Hematology/Oncology.


Henry Ford Health Care Corporation announced a $4 million gift to help establish a cancer center.

Henry Ford Hospital began a five-year National Cancer Institute study on the use of tamoxifen for reducing the incidence of breast cancer in high-risk patients.


Josephine Ford, granddaughter of Henry Ford and former Henry Ford Hospital Board of Trustee member, donated $10 million dollars to Henry Ford Health to fund the ongoing cancer research program. Named the Josephine Ford Cancer Center, the donation was in memory of her late husband Walter B. Ford II, who was treated in the early 1990s for pancreatic cancer. Ray Demers, M.D., was appointed the first director of the Josephine Ford Cancer Center.


The Josephine Cancer Center broke ground on a $2 million dollar expansion project at the Henry Ford Medical Center in West Bloomfield. The center was named the Williams International Cancer Wing in honor of the Williams International Company, which pledged 1.5 million for the addition.


Dr. Robert Chapman is named Director of the Josephine Ford Cancer Center and continues as Division Head of Hematology/Oncology. Under Dr. Chapman’s direction, multidisciplinary programs for cancer continue to be developed and cancer research continues to expand.


The Center is renamed the Josephine Ford Cancer Institute to reflect the breadth and depth of clinical cancer programs and cancer research and education. More cancer surgeries are done at Henry Ford Hospital than at any other site in Michigan, and nationally recognized cancer research programs have been established by a wide range of specialties.


The Josephine Ford Cancer Institute was granted a three-year accreditation with commendation by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons, receiving compliance ratings on all 34 standards including six commendations for clinical trial accrual, cancer registrar education, public reporting of outcomes, nursing care, abstracting timeliness and data quality/accuracy of data. The Commission’s standards represent the full scope of the cancer program – cancer committee leadership, cancer data management, clinical services, research, community outreach, and quality improvement.


Henry Ford announces plans to build a new cancer facility across from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit as part of $500 million expansion and neighborhood improvement initiative on 300 acres in Detroit, marking another key development in the city’s revitalization and growth.


Henry Ford’s cancer program becomes the Henry Ford Cancer Institute to represent all centers, programs and services that encompass cancer across all five system hospitals.

The Henry Ford Cancer Institute joins the national Cancer Moonshot initiative. Steven N. Kalkanis, M.D., medical director for cancer services at Henry Ford, along with Syapse, Henry Ford’s new Precision Medicine partner, attend the Moonshot summit in Washington, D.C. to discuss their mutual data sharing and Precision Medicine commitment.

Henry Ford receives a $20 million gift from Detroit businessman and philanthropist Mort Harris, in honor of his late wife Brigitte, for the cancer building project. The largest individual gift in Henry Ford’s history, the donation is part of a $40 million package to support the building project and three specific program areas: precision medicine, brain cancer, and pancreatic cancer.


Joined by patients and donors, state and city leaders, Henry Ford breaks ground for the new Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion, a destination center for ambulatory cancer treatment, precision medicine, clinical trials and research, and enhanced support services for cancer patients.

Steven Kalkanis, M.D., is named Medical Director of the Henry Ford Cancer Institute, and Spencer Hoover is named Vice President and Executive Director of the Henry Ford Cancer Institute and Cancer Service Line.

The Henry Ford Cancer Institute achieves “Three-Year with Commendation Gold Level” accreditation from the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. This distinction is awarded to cancer programs that meet all 34 compliance standards, and achieve all seven commendations. Earning seven commendations is the most a program can receive, and means the Cancer Institute exceeded compliance standards for performance in those areas.

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