Emil J Freireich, MD, Oral History Interview, July 23, 2001


Emil J Freireich, MD, Oral History Interview, July 23, 2001


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Major topics covered:

  • Personal and educational background;
  • Research: the continuous flow-blood separator; innovations in chemotherapy and combination therapy ;
  • Collaborations with Dr. Emil Frei, III;
  • The Department of Developmental Therapeutics;
  • Building the culture of clinical research; training clinical researchers and physician-scientists ;
  • History of cancer medicine, clinical research, translational research and education



Publication Date



The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Houston, Texas

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History

About the Interview

About the Interview Subject

Dr. Emil J Freireich (b. 16 March 1927, in Chicago, Illinois) came to MD Anderson in 1965 to serve as Chief of Research (Hematology) in the Department of Development Therapeutics. He was appointed Professor in the Department of Leukemia in the Division of Cancer Medicine.

A pioneer in clinical oncology research and the development of new treatments, Dr. Freireich is best known for developing an effective treatment –effectively a cure-- for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Freireich worked closely with Emil Frei, MD, and the collaborators developed the first combination chemotherapy treatments shown to be effective against childhood leukemia.

Dr. Freireich served as head of MD Anderson’s Department of Developmental Therapeutics from 1972-1983, when he became Chairman of the Department of Hematology (1983-1985). He served as Director of the Adult Leukemia Research Program (1985-2015). He served as Special Medical Education Director of Educational Programs in the Division of Academic Affairs (2000-2015). In 2014, Dr. Freireich was honored as a Fellow of the American Association for Cancer Research. He retired in 2016.

Emil J Freireich, MD, Oral History Interview, July 23, 2001