Our history

There is huge reason to celebrate the major advancements that have been seen in leukaemia research and care over the years. Find out about the key milestones in Leukaemia UK’s history and why our new strategy will go further than ever to stop leukaemia devastating lives.

In 1977, after his wife Isobel was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia, Derek Mitchell founded the Elimination of Leukaemia Fund. It had one mission: to advance progress in leukaemia research and care for all who receive a leukaemia diagnosis.

Five years later, in 1982, Lester Cazin – a leukaemia patient at Hammersmith Hospital – founded the charity, Leuka. He wanted to raise funds to support research.

These two charities grew and combined forces in 2019 – becoming the Leukaemia UK you know today. They became a greater force for change – for those whose lives are transformed by a leukaemia diagnosis.

We have reached significant milestones along the way. There is a huge reason to celebrate the major advancements in leukaemia research and care. But there is still a long way to go.

In the UK, the survival rate for cancer has doubled over the last 40 years.

This is testament to the amazing work of researchers and medical professionals all over the country. Thanks to research breakthroughs that are bringing about advancements in diagnosis and treatment (such as immunophenotype analysis, stem cell transplants and CAR T-cell therapy), the survival rate for leukaemia has increased too. We have seen a 39% increase in survival since the 1970s.

Yet with almost 5,000 lives still lost to leukaemia each year, and the five year survival standing at just over 53%, there is an urgent need for further progress. This is where our amazing researchers come in…

In 2022, Leukaemia UK revealed a new strategy to go further than ever to stop leukaemia devastating lives.    

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Looking back – key moments in Leukaemia UK’s history

In 1999, we reached a significant milestone in the charity’s history. Chef Peter Gordon and restaurateur Chris Corbin came together to hold the first ‘Who’s Cooking Dinner?‘ event at The Dorchester Park Lane. Since 1999, this extraordinary dinner has raised more than £7 million for leukaemia research.


In 2005, The Catherine Lewis Centre at Hammersmith Hospital  opened a new facility for processing transplant blood and bone marrow stem cells. And a dedicated Clinical Trials Unit opened to study new drugs and pioneer therapies for leukaemia.

In 2015, a new initiative is launched – the John Goldman Fellowships for Future Science Awards. It is named in honour of Professor John Goldman (1938 – 2013), a renowned haematologist and pioneer in the treatment of leukaemia. Thirty two of these prestigious awards have since been granted. They are funding innovative research projects led by early career researchers – pushing the boundaries to develop new ideas and translate scientific advances into clinical practice.

In the same year, the ELF and Libra Ward opened at King’s College Hospital. It added to the superb Leukaemia Treatment Suite, named after our founder – Derek Mitchell.

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The IMPACT initiative for stem cell transplant (SCT) clinical trials was launched in 2017. It included a £1 million investment from the Leukaemia UK. As well as partners including NHSBMT, Anthony Nolan and the University of Birmingham. These clinical trials play an essential role in forming the evidence base for new approaches to treatment. And are essential in increasing patient survival rates following an SCT.
The Leukaemia UK Ambulatory Care unit opened at King’s College Hospital, London in 2018.  It provides access to conditioning and stem cell treatments on an outpatient basis for certain patient groups.
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In 2018, Leukaemia UK also launched their Early Career Research Grant programme. This supports researchers and clinicians around the UK, allowing them to undertake small but innovative research projects.

In November 2019, the merger of Leuka and Leukaemia UK (previously the Elimination of Leukaemia Fund) resulted in the Leukaemia UK you know today. We are dedicated to being an even greater force for change for those whose lives are impacted by a leukaemia diagnosis.

In 2022, Leukaemia UK revealed a new strategy. Our plan is to go further than ever to stop leukaemia devastating lives.

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