BBC documents birth of chemotherapy at Yale

A crew from the British Broadcasting Corporation came to campus very early on Saturday morning, Aug. 11, to document a medical milestone that took place at Yale School of Medicine in 1942: the birth of cancer chemotherapy.

Yale surgeon Dr. John Fenn during his interview in the Medical Historical Library.

The segment is part of a special BBC series on the history of medicine.

Two present-day Yale surgeons, Dr. John Fenn and Dr. Robert Udelsman, did some sleuthing last year to uncover the long-lost history of chemotherapy, an innovation that changed cancer treatment forever and led to millions of saved lives. They even managed to find the 70-year-old records of the very first chemo patient, a man known only as “J.D.” See “Setting the record straight: The birth of chemotherapy at Yale.”

BBC presenter Dr. Michael Mosley tells the story of that first chemotherapy patient in scenes shot in Sterling Hall of Medicine, home of Yale School of Medicine. The BBC also interviewed Fenn inside the Medical Historical Library.

The BBC series will air in late 2012 or early 2013.

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