John S. Stehlin, Jr., was born in 1923 in Brownsville, Tennessee. He attended the University of Notre Dame and received his M.D. from The Medical College of Wisconsin in 1947. He served as Captain in the United States Air Force from 1953-55.
Following fellowships in Houston and Boston, Dr. Stehlin spent 10 years as a respected surgical oncologist at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, heading up the breast and melanoma treatment programs.
In 1967, Dr. Stehlin entered private practice, focusing on his unique approach of treating people, not their disease. In 1969, the Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research was established to bring clinical medicine into the laboratory and conducting research to improve treatment for cancer patients.
Many of Dr. Stehlin’s pioneering treatments are standard operating procedure today. He was one of the first two physicians in North America to treat breast cancer with lumpectomy rather than radical mastectomy. He was the first physician to use heat combined with chemotherapy for advanced melanoma of the extremities, virtually eliminating amputation and improving survival rates by 300 percent. He also developed the complex surgical procedure to remove lymph nodes during colorectal surgery, vastly improving a patient’s chances for recovery.
The Stehlin research laboratory became the first dedicated to the study of human cancers. To date, this organization has invested more than $80 million in cancer research, introducing several scientific techniques that have since become the gold standard. The group developed a line of immune-suppressed mice that the National Cancer Institute requires as the final non-human studies for anticancer drugs, collaborated with UCLA on the development of Herceptin® (a successful drug to treat aggressive breast cancers), and is now the international leader of clinical studies for a new family of promising anticancer drugs, the Camptothecins.
Dr. Stehlin’s innovative treatment methods and research discoveries by the laboratory staff have been shared through more than 500 articles published in national and international scientific journals.