1986 - 1991: Early Visions

The founders of the society believed that the Society for Biological Therapy (SBT) would succeed as a vital niche organization with a specialized focus on biological therapies for the treatment of cancer.

By empowering its growing committees, the International Society for Biological Therapy of Cancer saw an opportunity to advance its Core Purpose. iSBTc embarked on a new era in biological technologies by proactively meeting the challenges in the field of biological therapy. Through the following efforts, iSBTc remained the premier destination for interaction and innovation in cancer biologics:

Focus on the "international" - Efforts were made to expand international membership and meeting participation to truly embrace global ideas and strategies for the advancement of cancer biologics.

Welcome young investigators - As future Society leaders and luminaries in the field, iSBTc recognized the need to not only attract young clinical and laboratory investigators into its membership, but to also keep them as active members in the Society.

Strengthen external relationships - iSBTc recognized that cooperative efforts within the biotechnology industry must be expanded in order for cancer biologics to advance. iSBTc established new partnerships with up-and-coming businesses and organizations to further our common goals.

Encourage peer interaction - iSBTc provided the perfect mix of interaction and innovation for its members and attendees with relevant and cutting-edge scientific programming and meetings held throughout the year. Opportunities for new dialogue were also introduced to encourage progressive discourse in electronic environments.

The American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) was looked at as a model of success for SBT to follow.


  • John K. Whisnant, MD organizes the first SBT Annual Meeting in 1986 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Robert Oldham, MD establishes the Journal of Biological Response Modifiers; this becomes the official Journal of the SBT
  • Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD becomes the new editor of the Journal; the official name changes to the Journal of Immunotherapy
  • The major biotechnology companies of the era are Schering-Plough and Roche who market interferon alpha, and OrthoBiotech and Amgen who co-market erythropoietin; Amgen also develops and markets granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)
  • In 1991, Judith Kantor, PhD wins the inaugural "SBT Presidential Award"