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Foundation Quick Facts


Stehlin research has been changing the lives of people with cancer for more than 40 years by pioneering new drugs and patient therapies.

CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation is dedicated to patient-focused research, limiting investigations to human cancers.  Because of their focus on shortening the time from the test tube to treatment, thousands of cancer patients are alive today as a result of the Foundation’s work.

The Foundation’s founder, Dr. John S. Stehlin, Jr., was a visionary surgical oncologist who saw beyond existing protocols. His drive was to improve collaboration between cancer patients, the physicians providing treatment, and the scientists working to combat the disease. He worked as both researcher and physician until his retirement in 2002.

Dr. Stehlin stressed the importance of hope, faith, laughter, and love in patient recovery. In 1980, he established the ”Living Room” on his oncology unit at St. Joseph’s Hospital, where patients could see family and friends, read, watch television, and generally find relief from the hospital atmosphere. The concept has been adopted by cancer centers worldwide.


Working with a small staff and limited facilities, the Foundation was the first to develop and apply many cancer therapies now recognized as the “treatment of choice.”

  • In 1970, Dr. Stehlin became one of the first two surgeons in North America to treat breast cancer with breast conserving surgery involving partial mastectomy (lumpectomy) and radiation rather than radical mastectomy.
  • Stehlin was also the first to combine heat and chemotherapy (hyperthermic perfusion) for the treatment of patients with advanced melanomas of the arms and legs, essentially eliminating the need for amputation and improving survival rates by 300 percent.
  • The Foundation conducted one of the largest studies of liver cancer ever reported by a single institution.
  • Dr. Stehlin pioneered the complex, extensive surgical procedure to remove lymph nodes during colorectal surgery, vastly improving the patient’s chances for recovery.

The Foundation has been widely recognized in the scientific world as a pioneer in cancer research. Its breakthroughs have been documented in more than 500 scientific and medical journal articles. Some examples:

  • Laboratory director Dr. Beppino Giovanella pioneered the development and use of the immuno-suppressed nude mouse as a test subject in cancer research.  Today the nude mouse represents the final non-human model required by the National Cancer Institute to test the effectiveness of anticancer drugs.
  • The National Cancer Institute engaged the Foundation to create a library of breast cancer cells using the Foundation’s nude mouse model.  Over 50 percent of the human breast cancer xenografts used worldwide today come from the originals established in Foundation labs.
  • Foundation researchers played an integral role in the development of Herceptin®, an anticancer drug now used routinely against certain aggressive breast cancers.
  • The Foundation is recognized as an international leader in the development and clinical testing of the camptothecins, a family of drugs with powerful anticancer properties. The lab has had two camptothecin derivatives green-lighted by the FDA for clinical (human) trials. FDA approval is a milestone achieved by less than one-tenth of one percent of drug candidates.

Current Projects

CZ48 Clinical Trials – Phase I human trials of this new chemotherapy agent, a product of the Foundation’s cancer drug development program, are underway at The UT Health Science Center-San Antonio Cancer Center and the University of New Mexico Cancer Center. CZ48, a derivative of camptothecin, has shown remarkable anticancer activity against breast, lung, colon, pancreas, and bladder carcinomas, melanomas, and DSRCT sarcomas in laboratory studies.

Prostate Cancer Cell Model – Stehlin scientists are collaborating with Baylor College of Medicine physicians to create a broad line of tissue culture cell lines and xenografts of human prostate cancer. The lines will represent all subtypes and prognoses. As each line is characterized, the project team will make it available to the worldwide scientific community.

Hyperthermia – Stehlin researchers are continuing their pioneering research into the selective sensitivity of cancer cells to heat. One project will inject magnetic nanoparticles into nude mice carrying human tumors. The nanoparticles are attached to antibodies designed to seek out cancer cells. When exposed to radiofrequency waves, the nanoparticles absorb the energy and express it as heat, killing the tumor cells.


CHRISTUS Health, an international nonprofit healthcare system based in Dallas, became the Foundation’s sole corporate sponsor in 2006.

With CHRISTUS Health’s assistance, in 2011 Stehlin’s scientists moved to a state-of-the-art 27,000 square foot research facility in Houston near the Texas Medical Center.

The Foundation’s fiscal year 2012 budget is $5.1 million. Unlike most cancer research institutions, sponsored primarily through medical schools and government grants, Stehlin receives 100 percent of its funding from individual donors, private foundations, and corporate partners.

Independent funding allows Stehlin scientists to focus solely on their work fighting cancer, speeding up the time from research bench to patient treatment, and continuing Dr. Stehlin’s legacy.

Information and Laboratory Tours

For more information about the Foundation and its research programs, please contact us at 713-659-1336.  Tours of the laboratory are available by request.


Featured Events

Golfers Against Cancer Houston Tournament

November 23, 2013

Since its founding in 1997, Golfers Against Cancer has had one goal: to fund cancer research. Virtually all the money raised in GAC tournaments and events goes directly to cancer research organizations, including the CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation.

Luci Bonneau Memorial Bowling Tournament

August 2, 2013

The 14th Annual Luci Bonneau Memorial Striking Against Breast Cancer Mixed Doubles Bowling Tournament is one of the most prestigious doubles events in America. The tournament includes a Pro-Am - your chance to bowl with the pros to cure breast cancer!

Friends of the Stehlin Foundation 33rd Annual Gala

October 19, 2013 | 7:00 p.m.

stayin_alive graphicGet ready to disco and dance the night away at The Friends of CHRISTUS Stehlin Gala! Premiering “STAYIN’ ALIVE,” The Greatest Bee Gees Tribute Band with Members of the Houston Symphony Orchestra and America’s first Mash Up Group, “THE COMPANY MEN.”

YTAC Austin Powder Puff Football

May 4, 2013

On May 4th, 2013, young women will take the field for the first time in an exciting powder puff football game with teams comprised of some of best and brightest in Austin. The game is designed to bring the passion and spirit of young community leaders together to support Young Texans Against Cancer.

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Two Houston CHRISTUS Hospitals and Stehlin Soon to Join Houston Methodist

CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research will join CHRISTUS St. Catherine and CHRISTUS St. John in a new partnership with Houston Methodist.

Nearly 14 Million Cancer Survivors in U.S.

There are currently 13.7 million cancer survivors in the United States and the number is expected to rise by 31 percent to 18 million by 2022, according to a new report. >> Click article title for more.

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CHRISTUS Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research

10301 Stella Link Road, Suite A
Houston, Texas 77025-5447

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