Emil "Tom" Frei III, MD, SWOG's second leader
Emil "Tom" Frei III, MD \n SWOG's second leader

1950s and 1960s

  • 1956 - Grant Taylor, MD, an MD Anderson pediatrician, forms the Southwest Cancer Chemotherapy Study Group to test leukemia cures for children
  • 1958 - The group begins to study adult cancers
  • 1962 - The group designs a precursor to today's "umbrella" trial by testing a number of treatments for myeloma under one protocol
  • 1969 - The group merges with the Midwest Cancer Chemotherapy Study Group, a move that brings in member sites from Michigan, Ohio, and other heartland states
  • 1969 - National Cancer Institute legend Dr. Emil "Tom" Frei III, MD, takes over for Grant Taylor to become SWOG's second group chair. Frei was a pioneer of combination chemotherapy, and helped produce the first complete cures for childhood leukemia. After leaving SWOG, Frei went on to become physician-in-chief of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


Barth Hoogstraten, MD, SWOG's third group chair
Barth Hoogstraten, MD \n SWOG's third group chair
  • 1971 - The group establishes both adult and pediatric divisions
  • 1972 - Barth Hoogstraten, becomes the third chair of SWOG. A native of Holland, Hoogstraten escaped the Nazis during medical school and went on to a distinguished career in oncology, helping to develop NCI guidelines for breast cancer trials, and authoring four medical textbooks
  • 1973 - SWOG is born when the group changes its name to the Southwest Oncology Group
  • 1974 - The group reports the results of S427, which nets the longest remission times to date for patients with acute myelogenous leukemia
  • 1976 - SWOG begins working with investigators in community hospitals by joining the NCI's Cancer Control Program
  • 1978 - The biannual group meeting tradition is born



Charles Coltman Jr., MD, SWOG's Fourth Group Chair
Charles Coltman Jr., MD\n SWOG's Fourth Group Chair
  • 1980 - Ovarian cancer trial S8092 becomes the first cooperative group trial to use a gene assay
  • 1981 - Dr. Charles Coltman, Jr. is elected group chair and moves headquarters back to Texas. Coltman was the longest-running group chair, holding the post for 24 years
  • Coltman made a major impact on SWOG, inaugurating its international efforts in Japan, creating its first training program for young investigators, and launching dozens of high impact trials
  • 1984 - The new SWOG Statistics and Data Management Center is founded at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, with John Crowley, PhD, appointed group statistician
  • 1987 - SWOG forms a cancer control committee with Dr. Frank Meyskens as chair, making cancer prevention a central part of its mission.
  • 1988 - S8378 identifies fludarabine as a highly effective treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia and is one of two trials on which the FDA bases its approval for the drug in 1990.
  • 1989 - Results from S8412 show that carboplatin is an effective, and far less toxic, treatment for ovarian cancer. Based on the results, the FDA approves the use of carboplatin for ovarian cancer, and it remains the most commonly administered drug for the disease.



Jo Horn, President & CEO of The Hope Foundation
Jo Horn, President & CEO \n of The Hope Foundation for Cancer Research
  • 1990 - SWOG adds seven minority community oncology program members to better serve the needs of African-Americans, Latinos, and other minority patients
  • 1990 - Early results from S8591 lead to FDA approval of levamisole for treatment of colon cancer; The NIH recommends that this adjuvant therapy become standard of care
  • 1991 - S8216 demonstrates the effectiveness of one of the first immunotherapies, the bacteria-based bladder cancer vaccine Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, or BCG. It remains standard of care
  • 1993 - SWOG launches the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, the largest ever for this disease
  • 1994 - S7808 introduced the use of involved-field radiation into the treatment of patients with Hodgkin's disease. Although involved-field radiation did not increase remission duration or overall survival in the total population, patients with a nodular sclerosis histology remained in remission longer.
  • 1995 - SWOG launches its website, SWOG.org
  • 1998 - The Southwest Oncology Group Foundation is renamed The Hope Foundation. By 2016, The Hope Foundation provided more than $30 million in research support to SWOG - the most philanthropic support of any group in the NCI's National Clinical Trials Network. In 2013, Johanna Horn is appointed to lead the foundation
  • 1999 - The Young Investigator Training Course is born



Laurence Baker, DO, SWOG's fifth group chair
Laurence Baker, DO \n SWOG's fifth group chair
  • 2001 - The nation's largest cancer prevention trial is launched. The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) enrolls more than 35,000 men
  • 2003 - Results from the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial show the drug finasteride can reduce prostate cancer risk by 25 percent
  • 2005 - Laurence Baker, DO becomes SWOG's next group chair and moves headquarters to the University of Michigan. Under Baker, SWOG launches its Latin America Initiative, expands its patient advocate and cancer prevention programs, and becomes the first NCI group to partner with basic science centers
  • 2005 - SWOG establishes its biospecimen bank, which now holds more than 1.2 million samples and is a global cancer research resource
  • 2006 - SWOG hits a major milestone, averaging 5,000 patient enrollments each year
  • 2008 - The Dr. Charles Coltman, Jr. Fellowship Program for early career investigators debuts
  • 2008 - Frank Meyskens, MD expands SWOG's Cancer Control and Prevention Programs
  • 2009 - Results from SELECT show that selenium and Vitamin E supplements do not reduce the risk of prostate cancer - and, in fact, Vitamin E supplements slightly increase risk



Charles D. Blanke, MD, SWOG's sixth group chair
Charles D. Blanke, MD \n SWOG's sixth group chair
  • 2010 - Group drops "Southwest" from its name and becomes known simply by its acronym - SWOG
  • 2010 - Mexico's INCan becomes the first Latin American cancer institute to join SWOG
  • 2011 - Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory becomes a SWOG member - and SWOG becomes the first cooperative group to partner with an NCI basic science center
  • 2012 - SWOG launches its 1,000th cancer trial
  • 2013 - Charles Blanke, MD is elected SWOG's sixth chair and moves SWOG headquarters to the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University. Blanke emphasizes inclusion and innovation, launching an effort to enroll more military veterans into SWOG trials, expanding efforts in translational medicine and international partnerships, and creating a digital engagement committee
  • 2013 - SWOG submits its first National Clinical Trials Network grant to the NCI and receives "exceptional" ratings
  • 2013 - The Hope Foundation celebrates 20 years of supporting SWOG
  • 2013 - The Jackson Laboratory becomes a SWOG member, significantly expanding the group's translational medicine expertise
  • 2014 - SWOG launches Lung-MAP, the first NCI-supported precision medicine trial
  • 2014 - SWOG is awarded its first NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) grant to support community-based cancer research
  • 2016 - SWOG launches the first financial toxicity trial in the National Clinical Trials Network
  • 2017 - SWOG launches DART, the first federally funded immunotherapy trial devoted to rare cancers
  • 2017 - SWOG launches a newly redesigned, mobile responsive SWOG.org
  • 2018 - The Hope Foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary, and the 10th anniversary of the Dr. Charles A. Coltman Jr. Fellowship. It also changes its name to the Hope Foundation for Cancer Research and adopts a new logo
  • 2018 - Practice-changing results from S0337, published in JAMA, show that flushing the bladder with a common chemotherapy drug immediately after surgery significantly reduces the chances of bladder cancer returning
  • 2018 - Group changes its name to SWOG Cancer Research Network and adopts a new logo
  • 2018 - Final, five-year results from S0230, or the POEMS trial, confirm that injections of the hormone drug goserelin along with standard breast cancer chemotherapy can protect ovaries and make it more likely for survivors to become pregnant – without developing negative side effects or shortening their lives.