Barnes-Jewish Hospital | Washington University Physicians

HISTORY

milestones from the archives.

MAKING MEDICINE

BY CONNIE MITCHELL

Some call it the “therapeutic pipeline.” Others refer to it as “bench to bedside.” Both phrases refer to the scientific process that delivers new therapies, new medicines, to people who are sick. In the pipeline metaphor, an idea rushes along, like water in a hose, from the minds of researchers into the lab, through testing and approvals to the pharmacy or treatment room. In the bench metaphor, progress is similarly linear, advancing from the scientist’s bench in the lab to the patient’s bedside. But neither image paints an accurate picture.

Imagine instead a large Rube Goldberg machine, with cogs and wheels and diversionary paths. Research isn’t a straight-line prospect.

ECAR-T IMMUNOTHERAPY
ILLUSTRATION OF CAR-T IMMUNOTHERAPY AT WORK. Photo courtesy of Science Photo

Washington University oncologist John DiPersio, MD, PhD, a nationally known expert in the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma, serves as deputy director of Siteman Cancer Center and director of the Washington University Center for Gene & Cellular Immunotherapy (CGCI). With more than three decades of experience as a physician-scientist, DiPersio has played an instrumental role in developing new therapies to treat blood cancers. Yet DiPersio, reflecting on his professional journey, notes that the work is never done. “It’s a constant iterative process of bench to bedside and back to bench again,” he says. His work with CAR-T immunotherapy is a clear example of what he’s talking about.

CAR-T immunotherapy isolates a person’s T cells—cells the immune system uses to find and destroy harmful invaders—and modifies them to home in on cancerous cells. Once modified, these cells are known as CAR-T cells: chimeric antigen receptor T cells. After modification, the CAR-T cells are returned to the body, where they find their malignant targets and, behaving as any T cell should, trigger a chain of reactions that destroys the targeted cell.

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PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF FERTILITY CARE

PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF FERTILITY CARE

BY ANDRREA MONGLER

The first baby conceived by in vitro fertilization, or IVF, was born in 1978 in Manchester, England. In 1985, a couple from Creve Coeur gave birth to Missouri’s first baby conceived by IVF at what was then called Jewish Hospital. The technology was controversial in its early days. The idea of “creating” a baby in a lab felt strange to some and raised ethical concerns in others.

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SITEMAN CANCER CENTER AT 20: A RETROSPECTIVE

SITEMAN CANCER CENTER AT 20: A RETROSPECTIVE

BY PAM MCGRATH
IMAGES COURTESY OF WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AND SITEMAN CANCER CENTER

When Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine established the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center in 1999, the partnering institutions already shared a decades-long history of advancing cancer research and treatment.

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THE STORY OF TRANSPLANT AT BARNES-JEWISH HOSPITAL

THE STORY OF TRANSPLANT AT BARNES-JEWISH HOSPITAL

BY JOYCE ROMINE

Scientists and physicians experimented with organ transplantation using animals and humans as early as the 18th century. And though replacing a failing organ with a foreign organ has always been a significant surgical feat, it alone couldn’t save lives. Once the new organ was in place, the recipient’s body strenuously objected, mounting a deadly response. For decades, organ rejection was the stumbling block, the thing that drove researchers back to their labs, where they worked for decades looking for answers.

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FROM BATTLEFIELD TO MEDICAL SPECIALTY

FROM BATTLEFIELD TO MEDICAL SPECIALTY

BY JOYCE ROMINE

War is hell. This simple yet dramatic phrase, coined in the Civil War, also applies to World War I, which brought unprecedented carnage and destruction. If there is a silver lining to such events, perhaps it is found in the advances they bring to the practice of medicine. The ugliness of battle forces field surgeons to find better ways to care for wounded soldiers. And after the war ends, these advances benefit civilians at home.

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TRANSPLANT THEN & NOW

TRANSPLANT THEN & NOW

BY CONNIE MITCHELL

In December 1954, physicians in Boston did something revolutionary. They transplanted a kidney into a 23-year-old patient: the first successful organ transplant in history. Now, 64 years later, organ transplants save tens of thousands of lives each year. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that U.S. transplant teams performed more than 19,000 kidney transplants in 2016 alone.

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