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Register of the Lillian W. and William H. Fishman Papers MSS 676
MSS 676  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biography
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Restrictions

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Lillian W. and William H. Fishman Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 676
    Contributing Institution: Mandeville Special Collections Library
    La Jolla, California 92093-0175
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 25.2 Linear feet 56 archives boxes, 2 film boxes, 1 records carton, 6 oversize folders and 5 art bin items
    Date (inclusive): 1937 - 2006
    Abstract: The Lillian W. and William H. Fishman Papers document the medical and research careers of two cancer scientists, William Fishman and Lillian Fishman, who specifically researched what is termed an oncodevelopmental biological approach to cancer. Included in the papers are files on the establishment of the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation, the research center founded by the Fishmans, now The Burnham Institute; files on William Fishman's teaching and cancer research at Tufts University; personal files including awards and honors; and correspondence with leading cancer scientists.
    Creator: Fishman, William H.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The papers of Lillian and William Fishman document their medical and research careers from college to the founding of the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation and its evolution into the Burnham Institute. The Fishman's lives were so entwined with their scientific work and the foundation that much of the papers, while including some personal information, documents their professional lives. The papers are arranged in nine series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) LJCRF ADMINISTRATIVE FILES, 3) BURNHAM INSTITUTE, 4) WILLIAM AND LILLIAN FISHMAN, 5) TUFTS UNIVERSITY, 6) SUBJECT FILES, 7) NEWS ARTICLES, 8) PHOTOGRAPHS, and 9) MEDIA.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series contains professional correspondence discussing research, visiting scientists and La Jolla Foundation's needs and growth. The correspondence is to and from the Fishmans from numerous community members, board members, employees, and others. It is arranged in two subseries: A) Alphabetical and B) Chronological.
    A) The Alphabetical subseries is arranged by correspondent, ranging in date from 1976 through 1997.
    B) The Chronological subseries is arranged by date from 1957 to 1998.
    The LJCRF FILES series documents the beginning, daily work files, and the evolution of the LJCRF into the Burnham Institute. It is arranged in eight subseries: A) Administrative, B) Committees, C) Conferences, D) Events, E) Facilities, F) Grants, G) Publications and Reports, and H) Research.
    A) The Administrative subseries contains budgets, bylaws, development ideas and plans, documents of origin, general policies and procedures, foundation mission statements, requisition receipts, strategic planning, and the transition of leadership between William Fishman and Erkki Ruoslahti.
    B) The Committees subseries includes information on the Advisory Boards, Board of Friends, Board of Scientific Advisors, Board of Trustees, Development Committee, Finance Committee, Operations Committee, as well as staff meetings.
    C) The Conferences subseries contains information on the International Cancer Congress, the International Society for Oncodevelopmental Biology and Medicine, the International Symposium for Clinical Enzymology, and the San Diego Conference on Onco-Developmental Gene Expression.
    D) The Events subseries documents the numerous fundraising events that LJCRF organized to raise money. Most of the events were done through the LJCRF Friends Committee.
    E) The Facilities subseries contains information on the first LJCRF facility on Coast Blvd., on the construction of a permanent facility and additions, site visits for NCI approval, and an original LJCRF sign.
    F) The Grants subseries contains information on the different grants for which the foundation applied.
    G) The Publications and Reports subseries contains the LJCRF Annual Reports from 1981 to 1994, brochures, committee reports, newsletters, and other publications highlighting the Foundation.
    H) The Research subseries contains information on patent policy, research objectives, and research programs.
    The BURNHAM INSTITUTE series contains Annual Reports from 1995 to 2003, brochures, plans for expanding research into other fields, and information on the change of name from La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation to The Burnham Institute in 1996.
    The WILLIAM AND LILLIAN FISHMAN series contains personal and biographical information, personal calendars, "La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation: The Miracle on Torrey Pines" publishing information, and article reprints. It is arranged in five subseries: A) Personal, B) Calendars C) Presentations, D) Writings, and E) Reprints.
    A) The Personal subseries contains awards, curricula vitae, and other family information, including eulogies for William Fishman by his professional colleagues.
    B) The Calendars subseries is the Fishmans' yearly calendars of meetings and research information from 1977 to 1998.
    C) The Presentations subseries is typed scripts and notes, and small visual aids used at presentations.
    D) The Writings subseries includes articles and article reviews, chapters written by William Fishman for "Clinical Biochemistry," as well as the notes and publishing information for "La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation: The Miracle on Torrey Pines."
    E) The Reprints subseries contains reprints of articles written by William Fishman from 1937 to 1994, and also includes reprint requests from 1990 to 1996.
    The TUFTS UNIVERSITY series provides information on the beginning of the Tufts Cancer Research Center, started and managed by William Fishman, and other documents related to the Fishman's tenure at Tufts University.
    The SUBJECT FILES series contains materials on the Association of American Cancer Institutes, the California Foundation for Biomedical Research, the National Cancer Institute and Advisory Boards, the National Cancer Act of 1971, research information from scientists outside the foundation, and other cancer reports not produced by the foundation.
    The NEWS ARTICLES series, arranged chronologically from 1948 to 2004, contains news articles relating to cancer research or, in the case of the later years, Foundation related articles.
    The PHOTOGRAPHS series is arranged in two subseries: A) People and Places and B) Events.
    A) The People and Places subseries is arranged by photograph subject and includes the Fishman family, researchers, staff and board members, and also includes photographs of the original building the foundation was housed in and the construction and completion of the current facility.
    B) The Events subseries documents the many events hosted by the Foundation, for example, symposiums, school field trips, award ceremonies and dinners, building dedications, board meetings, fundraising events, holiday events, foundation employee picnics and Tufts University photographs.
    The MEDIA series contains La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation event films and educational cancer films.


    William Fishman was born in Winnipeg, Canada, on March 2, 1914, and grew up in Manitoba on the Canadian prairies. He received his degree with high honors in chemistry in 1935 from the University of Saskatchewan and was granted his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1939 from the University of Toronto. Before receiving his doctorate, Fishman published three sole author papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
    In 1939, William Fishman married Lillian Waterman. Waterman was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada on April 28, 1915. She entered the University of Alberta in 1931, focused on a science degree in home economics with her real interest being in biochemistry. Upon graduation, she was accepted as a graduate student at Columbia University, but instead stayed in Calgary. She was later accepted by Montefiore Hospital, New York, in their dietitian training program, where she worked in the tuberculosis wards and taught the nurses about nutrition.
    William worked for Professor Marrian at the University of Toronto in 1938, at the time Marrian accepted a Professorship of Medical Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. Marrian invited William to apply for a Research Fellowship of the Royal Society of Canada, which he won. After their marriage, William and Lillian departed for Edinburgh, arriving in time to hear that war had broken out in Europe. In 1940, the Fishmans decided to leave Britain after hearing of the German victories across Europe. Back in the U.S., William found work with Dr. V. duVigneuad at Cornell University Medical College in New York City and Lillian worked as a dietitian at New York Hospital.
    As William's Royal Society of Canada Fellowship came to an end in 1941, a position at the Bowman-Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest opened up and William was hired. The Fishmans moved to the Winston-Salem, North Carolina, area and began work under Professor Camillo Artom.
    In 1945, William Fishman was hired by the Department of Surgery at the University of Chicago. This opportunity allowed him to study in a biochemical research environment which included scientists Tom Gallagher, E. Guzman Baron, Earl Evans, Konrad Bloch, and Charles Huggins, who later received the Nobel Prize for his work on prostatic cancer.
    In 1948, Tufts University sought to attract research oncologists to their faculty and Dr. Gallagher recommended William Fishman. Fishman became the scientific director of the Tufts Cancer Research and Cancer Control Unit, studying tumor markers and doing clinical trials, as well as holding a joint research professorship in the biochemistry department. In 1953, the laboratory had devised a specific method for measuring the acid phosphatase of prostatic origin. The so-called Fishman-Lerner method was highly regarded by urologists and oncologists in helping to solve problems in differential diagnosis. They also discovered the Regan Isoenzyme-a placental alkaline phosphate-named after the cancer patient it was discovered in. In 1975, when reaching retirement age, William Fishman decided it was time to move on from Tufts and find another scientific avenue.
    After searching for an established institution, the Fishmans decided to create an new foundation whose sole function was to support oncodevelopmental research. A visit to La Jolla, California, convinced the Fishmans the scientific environment was right for a new research foundation, thus the beginning of the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation.
    In 1976, the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation began operations in a leased renovated apartment building on South Coast Blvd. in La Jolla. The foundation was first funded by a planning grant from the National Cancer Institute. In 1979, the foundation moved to a space on Torrey Pines Mesa. The foundation received designation as a NCI Basic Science Cancer Research Center, a credential which only two other California institutions shared-The Salk Institute and the California Institute of Technology. William Fishman served as president of the foundation from 1976-1989 and then continued on as an emeritus member of the board of trustees. In 1996, the foundation changed its name to The Burnham Institute and he continued to serve as president emeritus and trustee until his death. In 1995, he published his own account of the founding of the Institute in the book "La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation: The Miracle on Torrey Pines Mesa." Lillian Fishman served in many positions as the foundation was starting and growing, then served as the public relations director. She founded and published the LJCRF Newsletter and created the "Friends of LJCRF" which attracted community support.
    William Fishman also started the International Society for Oncodevelopmental Biology and Medicine in 1977 attracting scientists devoted to this branch of cancer research, who had been meeting previously. William Fishman drafted bylaws which were approved by the conference scientists. The La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation was designated as the North American headquarters of the society.
    Dr. William Fishman passed away on January 25, 2001, and is survived by his wife, Lillian, to whom he was married 61 years and by a daughter and two sons.

    Preferred Citation

    Lillian W. and William H. Fishman Papers, MSS 676. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available


    The media in Series 9 is restricted. Researchers must request user copies be produced.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Burnham Institute.
    Fishman, Lillian W.
    La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation -- Archives
    Cancer--Research--San Diego County
    Medical laboratories -- California
    Medicine -- California -- San Diego County -- History
    Medicine research -- California