Massachusetts General Hospital's dedication to the treatment of cancer reaches back to 1925, when the hospital opened the nation’s first tumor clinic. Over the decades, it became widely known for its leadership in cancer surgery and radiation therapy.

The Cancer Center was established in 1986, under the leadership of Kurt Isselbacher, MD, who founded the Center for Cancer Research – a 40,000 square foot research facility in Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard dedicated to study the basic mechanisms of cancer.

In 1995, Bruce Chabner, MD, was recruited from the National Cancer Institute to become the Cancer Center’s clinical director. Under his leadership, clinical care and clinical research in medical oncology were greatly expanded and integrated with the surgical and radiation oncology programs to create disease-specific multidisciplinary programs. In 2003 Daniel Haber, MD, PhD, noted for his research on the genetics of human cancer, assumed the directorship of the Cancer Center.