My colleague writes today of the passing of Karl Blume, MD, a major figure in bone marrow transplantation at Stanford. Referred to by colleagues as a deeply valued visionary who had a strong commitment to his patients, Blume directed the Division of Bone Marrow Transplantation from 1987 until 2000 and would later lead Stanford’s effort to attain Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute.
From the obituary:
Blume not only built the bone marrow transplantation program at Stanford from the ground up, but he also shepherded it through a multitude of clinical advances and changes. During his tenure, the process of transplantation evolved from a reliance on whole bone marrow, often from a patient or a patient’s relative, to the use of blood stem cells that can be harvested from the plasma of an unrelated, matched donor. The program grew from about 40 transplants during its first year in 1987 to more than 300 transplants during 2012.
“We’ve seen an incredible evolution of this treatment over time,” said Robert Negrin, MD, current chief of the blood and marrow transplant program. “Karl always brought a sense of commitment to the patients and their experience. He also encouraged discipline in the design of clinical trials, which enabled the field to move forward with rigor and clarity. He excelled in his ability to relate to many different kinds of people and personalities and to bring them together to work toward a common goal in a very effective way.”
In 2003, Blume dedicated himself to achieving National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center status for the Stanford Cancer Institute, which would afford greater access to NCI resources, funding and clinical trials. The designation was awarded by the NCI in 2007 after a three-year grant application process.