David A. Karnofsky (1914-1969), an
American clinical oncologist. In 1940, while he was a resident at the
Colis P. Huntington Memorial Laboratory for Cancer Research of Harvard
University, David Karnofsky began clinical investigation in cancer, and
devoted himself to this area throughout his career. He was an
internationally recognized specialist in cancer chemotherapy and
with the Division of Experimental Chemotherapy, Sloan-Kettering
Institute for Cancer research. He coined Karnofsky Performance Status
Scale together with Joseph H. Burchenal (*).
Dr. David A. Karnofsky died of lung cancer in August 1969, a group of
his friends donated a fund to be used to finance a yearly lecture at
the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
This was to be given by an outstanding oncologist to be selected by the
Program Committee of ASCO with the concurrence, which became almost
automatic, of the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Lecture Fund Committee.
This lecture is then published as soon as possible in the Society's
In 1959 David Karnofsky stated that: "The
relevant matter in examining any form of treatment is not the
reputation of its proponent, the persuasiveness of his theory, the
eminence of its lay supporters, the testimony of patients, or the
existence of public controversy, but simply...does the treatment work?"
(*) Karnofsky DA, Burchenal JH.
"The Clinical Evaluation of Chemotherapeutic Agents in Cancer." In:
MacLeod CM (Ed), Evaluation of Chemotherapeutic Agents. Columbia Univ
Press. Page 196.
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