Since 1981, the John Wayne name has been committed by the Wayne Family to leading-edge cancer research and education, in memory of their father who died of stomach cancer in 1979. The Institute, previously known as the John Wayne Cancer Clinic at UCLA, was formed by the Wayne Foundation and headed by eldest son Michael. Over the next decade, Michael Wayne served as Chairman of the Board – a position he held until his death in 2003. Patrick Wayne, Michael’s brother, now serves as Chairman of the Board and provides continued determination toward the family’s goal of curing this dreaded disease.
In 1991, the John Wayne Cancer Institute (JWCI) launched a successful affiliation with Saint John’s Health Center and opened in Santa Monica, California. Combined with the exceptional quality of Saint John’s medical staff and hospital, a unique cancer institute was created, outstanding in the areas of translational research, and the treatment of solid tumors including surgical oncology, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and radiation.
Today, the tradition of excellence continues as JWCI spearheads new research advances while training the next generation of surgical oncologists. The Institute conducts multidisciplinary basic, clinical and translational research on many complex cancer problems, focusing in particular on melanoma, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, neuroendocrine cancer, gastro-intestinal cancer and sarcoma.
With renowned researchers and advanced technologies, JWCI has the unique ability to quickly and effectively react, explore, and investigate life-saving cancer treatments. Developed at the Institute, the Sentinel Node Biopsy is one such treatment. Now considered the worldwide standard of care for melanoma and breast cancer, the Sentinel Node Biopsy has revolutionized treatment options by offering a minimally invasive technique to determine the spread of tumor cells.
While there have been many advances in scientific knowledge and therapeutic modalities, surgery still remains the most frequently used and single most effective treatment of solid tumors. JWCI’s surgical oncology fellowship program was developed to train and educate world-class surgeons who through their research find solutions to currently unsolved cancer problems. The John Wayne Cancer Institute was one of the first in the United States approved by the Society of Surgical Oncology and has trained more than 150 surgical oncologists. They continue to be a leader in surgical oncology education.