History of the Division of Hematology

In the Beginning

The modern Division of Hematology dates from the move from San Francisco to the Stanford University campus in July 1959. At that time the Division consisted of Bill Creger, who provided a strong clinical influence, Stan Schrier, who joined that month, and two remarkable women who were PhD investigators and arguably made some of the most influential observations in hematology over the next two decades.

Judy Pool was interested in bleeding disorders, particularly hemophilia. She designed the first useful test to measure the defective coagulation factor quantitatively, and showed that the extent of factor deficiency correlated with the extent of clinical bleeding. Judy then developed appropriate therapy for hemophilia by showing that a cryoprecipitate of plasma contained most of the deficient factor, which could now be given in the required doses in the necessary small volumes.

Rose Payne was interested in the febrile reactions that occurred after blood transfusions, and discovered that the patients, mostly women, who developed febrile reactions, had antibodies to donor white blood cells (leucoagglutinating antibodies). The antigen-antibody reactions caused the fever. The women with the most marked febrile transfusion reactions also had the highest number of previous pregnancies. Rose determined that during each pregnancy, the baby's white blood cells carrying some of the father’s traits crossed the placenta and entered the mother’s circulation where antibodies to these foreign white blood cells developed. The way to avoid these febrile transfusion reactions was to deplete donor transfusions of white blood cells. Much more importantly, Rose working with Walter Bodmer in Genetics, discovered that these leucoagglutinating antibodies defined the tissue specific HLA system, which in turn lead to the whole field of transplantation.

The Hematology Division Grows

The Division grew in the mid-1960’s with the addition of Saul Rosenberg, who subsequently founded the Division of Medical Oncology. Paul Cooney and Francis Michel joined us in the Division before entering into private practice. Stan Schrier became Division Chief in 1968 and focused on developing programs in hemostasis, thrombosis, variant anemias, and setting up a special hematology lab where marrow interpretation, sophisticated diagnostic tests as well as impedance phlebography were performed. Peter Greenberg joined the division in 1972 and developed important interests in acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, which he studied clinically and by means of his cutting-edge marrow culture methods. Lee Levitt joined us and provided clinical strength as well as excellent research regarding the immune control of hematopoeisis. Lee is the director of Hematology/Oncology at our affiliated Valley Medical Center. Larry Leung joined the Division in 1985 and brought investigative expertise in hemostasis, as well as strong clinical and teaching skills. Larry was appointed Division Chief in 1995 and continued to build the division's clinical and research programs. Linda Boxer joined us in 1990 adding enormous strength in the area of molecular biology as applied to hematologic malignancies. Linda became Division Chief in March 2004. The division's more junior members have been recruited over the past decade and provide strength and breadth in both research and in patient care.

Stanley Schrier, MD

"The Ancient Mariners"

The Three Division Chiefs

Linda Boxer, MD, PhD (2004-Current)
Lawrence Leung, MD (1995-2004)
Stanley Schrier, MD (1968-1995)