History & Future
Examining the urgent priority to establish a national childhood cancer research institute in retrospect.
The St. Anna Children’s Hospital was founded by Ludwig Wilhem Mauthner as the first paediatric hospital in Vienna and the third oldest in Europe. It focused on the cost-free medical care of socially deprived children. For the first time in history, Ludwig Wilhelm Mauthner and his renowned successors established paediatrics as an independent clinical department in Europe.
The St. Anna Children's Hospital had the function of University Clinic for Paediatrics.
One of the hospital's renowned directors:
The German-Austrian paediatrician Theodor von Escherich
He discovered the bacterium Escherichia coli, which was named after him in 1919. In 1903 he founded the Säuglingsschutz (Infant Defence Society) and started a high profile campaign for breastfeeding.
The name was changed into "German Red Cross Children's Hospital", but renamed to St. Anna Children's Hospital in 1945.
Start to treat children and adolescents suffering from cancer whose medical care was of little interest at that time.
Prof. Helmut Gadner assumed responsibility of the Medical Director at St. Anna.
Essential structural renovations
The Dept. of Haematology-Oncology was upgraded to a paediatric cancer centre, including a stem cell transplantation unit to offer the best treatment options possible for children and adolescents with cancer.
Therapy Optimisiation Studies - a key of success in paediatric oncology
Foundation of a centre for documentation and statistics to evaluate the progress of treatment and outcome in Austria and to compare the data with international studies on children and adolescents suffering from cancer.
Improvements in treating young cancer patients
Illustration: Increase in 2-year (until 1970) and 5-year-survival rates of children and adolescents with cancer in Germany since 1940; source: German Childhood Cancer Registry; Competence Network Paediatric Oncology/Haematology (KPOH), kinderkrebsinfo.de; design: CCRI's EC-funded science communication project DIRECT
National and international collaborations had already been started within the so-called "Therapy Optimisation Studies" (TOS, "clinical studies"). At that time, the paediatric oncological community focused on future challenges to develop new therapy strategies for tackling these life-threatening diseases. As a consequence, the cure rate of certain types of childhood cancer, considered incurable so far, were improved from 35% to 70% within a few years.
More insights into the biology of cancer cells are required.
It became clear that further progress could only be achieved by gaining insights into the biology of cancer cells to provide optimal therapy strategies for each individual patient. However, the hospital did not have sufficient research funds available.
Parents of children with cancer treated at St. Anna provided the impetus and support for founding the "St. Anna Children's Cancer Research Institute". They founded an association and tried to raise enough money to establish a biomedical laboratory dedicated to children's cancer research at the hospital where young cancer patients are treated.
With the help of Dr. Monika Lindner - at that time member of the ORF staff (Austrian public television and radio station) and later CEO of the ORF - a successful campaign was launched to inform the public about the urgent need for an Austrian children's cancer research centre and to raise financial funds required to set up a biomedical laboratory at the then empty attic of the St. Anna Children's Hospital.
Even today private donations from the Austrian population represent a significant proportion of contribution to bear the yearly costs of the St. Anna Children's Cancer Research Institute. The Association "St. Anna Kinderkrebsforschung e.V." acts as the supporting organisation of the CCRI.
Official start of research work at the Children's Cancer Research Institute, CCRI
The research institute is "bursting at the seams" - the number of staff members has constantly been growing
After two years of construction work: relocation to a newly built independent research institute on Zimmermannplatz 10, 1090 Vienna, which is directly linked to the St. Anna Children's Hospital through a glass bridge