About Leukaemia UK's history prior to its merger with Leuka

Leukaemia UK was founded in 1977 by Derek Mitchell after his wife Isobel was treated for leukaemia at King's College Hospital in London. Originally named The Elimination of Leukaemia Fund, the charity supported the work of the King's haematology department but grew to be able to offer grants to blood cancer specialists in hospitals across the UK. 

Milestones in Leukaemia UK’s 40-year history

1 November 2019 – Leuka and Leukaemia UK join forces, coming together under Chairman Chris Corbin OBE to form the UK’s biggest specialist charity for leukaemia and other blood cancers.  

2019 – The Leukaemia UK Mind & Body Team starts work at King’s College Hospital, London, to pioneer new care pathways with a view to providing undeniable evidence that caring for people’s emotional wellbeing during treatment can support improved physical resilience. 

2018 – Launch of Leukaemia UK’s Early Career research grant programme, supporting researchers and clinicians around the UK to be able to undertake small but innovative research projects or mentorships for UK centres of excellence.

2018 – The Leukaemia UK Ambulatory Care unit opens at King’s College Hospital, London, providing access to conditioning and stem cell treatments on an outpatient basis for certain patient groups. 

2017 – The Elimination of Leukaemia Fund rebrands to become Leukaemia UK, reflecting our ambition to grow and make a real difference in the areas of blood cancer research and care. 

2015 – King’s College Hospital names one of its new wards after our charity – the ELF and Libra ward – recognising the huge contribution these two charities have made. This is in addition to the superb Leukaemia Treatment Suite which is named after our founder, Derek Mitchell.

2011 – Alastair Adam takes over from Ernie Payne as Chair of Trustees, and the charity incorporates for the first time. Grants awarded to the New Waddington Ward and the Derek Mitchell Unit at King’s college Hospital to provide a patient’s family room.

2010 – A follow-on grant of £440,000 to Professors Mufti and Farzaneh, King's College Hospital and King's College, London, to build on an original £349,000 grant from 2004 to support work on a clinical trial into the use of a gene therapy for patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

2010 – A £50,000 grant to Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Institute of Child Health to help fund a trials coordinator for work directed at its world-leading programme of gene and cell-based treatments for childhood leukaemia.

2008 – The charity Trustees decided there was a gap in funding for care programmes, and that it should fund these as well as research. The charity adopted the strapline ‘Focusing on patient-centred work’ to reflect this shift, and funded two new Clinical Nurse Specialist roles. 

1997 – Introduction of a Travel and Training Fellowship to allow clinicians, nurses, clinical researchers and related health professionals to attend conferences, workshops and visit centres of excellence and expertise.

1992 – With a grant of £250,000 from Leukaemia UK, the Derek Mitchell Transplant Unit was established – a five-bedded ward with nursing support in what is now the Ruskin Wing. This paved the way for the superb department which exists today, which is also named after Derek Mitchell.

1977 – Derek Mitchell, licensee of the Change of Horses pub in Farnborough, Kent, founds the Elimination of Leukaemia Fund, to raise funds to improve facilities and treatments particularly at King’s College Hospital, London, following his wife’s leukaemia diagnosis. 

More than 40 years on, Leukaemia UK continues to work towards Derek's vision of a blood cancer cure and for better, kinder treatments for those living with blood cancers. We are sure he would be very proud of the huge advances Leukaemia UK has helped to achieve in blood cancer care.

Find out more about our research projects into leukaemia and other blood cancers.