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In 1939 Julie Penrose initiated plans to
bring to reality the long cherished dream of her philanthropist
husband, Spencer Penrose, to establish an institution for the care
of cancer patients. Spencer Penrose's personal experience
with cancer led him to plan the Penrose Tumor Institute until his
death. He arranged to provide for it after his death by the
establishment of a special fund: the El Pomar Foundation.
At the time of the opening of the Penrose Tumor Institute in
1941, the world renowned Dr. Henri Coutard took charge of radium
therapy as well as the research and treatment of cancer. Dr.
Coutard was the inventor of the "Coutard Method" used worldwide for
the treatment of cancer. Prior to coming to Colorado Springs,
Dr. Coutard was in charge of the Roentgentherapy department at the
Institute of Radium and at the Curie Institute at the University of
Paris. Dr. Coutard became Spencer Penrose's physician in
France while he was being treated for cancer.
The earliest directors of the Penrose programs were Dr. Charles
T. Ryder in histobiology, Dr. James W. McMullen in radiology, and
Dr. Henri Coutard in radiophysiology.
In 1949 Dr. Coutard returned to Paris and Dr. Juan del Regato
was appointed Medical Director of the Penrose Cancer
Hospital. Dr. del Regato studied under Dr. Coutard at the
University of Paris. In fact, he assisted Dr. Coutard in the
treatment of Spencer Penrose. In 1943, while practicing at
the Ellis Fischel Cancer Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, Dr. del
Regato teamed up with Lauren Ackerman in the authoring of
Cancer, the first textbook on the diagnosis and treatment
Professionally, Dr. del Regato was respected for his many
medical and scientific writings and for the radiation physicians he
trained. These physicians are now among the outstanding
radiation oncologists in this country; many serving as directors of
some of the leading universities and cancer centers. At one
time it was estimated that Penrose Cancer Hospital had trained one
third of the radiation oncologists that were practicing in the
United States. The National Cancer Institute accredited the
first radiation therapy residency at Penrose Cancer Hospital in
Dr. del Regato was also the founder of the Penrose Cancer
Seminars-a unique educational conference held at the Broadmoor
Hotel and attended annually by top physicians throughout the
In October 1952, the Penrose Cancer Hospital won official
recognition by the American College of Surgeons as one of three
approved cancer hospitals west of the Mississippi. At that
time, only ten other such institutions in the entire United States
had won that recognition.
A key physician who worked closely with Dr. del Regato through
the years training physicians, researching and diagnosing cancer
was pathologist, Dr. Morgan Berthrong.
During Dr. del Regato's career he received numerous honors and
appointments including being named a member of the National
Advisory Cancer Council in 1967 and serving in various capacities
at the National Institutes of Health. He also was responsible
for obtaining numerous research grants for Penrose Cancer Hospital
during his tenure. In 1968 he was awarded the Gold Medal of
the American College of Radiology-the highest honor that can be
awarded and going only to those who have attained the maximum
In 1973, after 25 years of devoted service to the Penrose Cancer
Hospital, Dr. del Regato resigned. Dr. Chahin M. Chahbazian
became the new Medical Director of the Cancer Hospital for one year
before leaving to continue his work in California.
Dr. John Schiller was appointed Medical Director of Radiation
Therapy in 1975 and retired in 2006. His long time partner,
Dr. Dudley Kersey, retired in 1999. Today, Dr. Anuj Peddada
practices with Dr. Alan Monroe who joined the staff in 2005 and Dr.
Tanner who joined in 2011.
In 1982, Penrose became the only community hospital in the
nation to be designated as a Cancer Information Service
(1-800-4CANCER) by the National Cancer Institute. That
service continues today. In 1999, Penrose was awarded an
additional 5-year contract and serves callers in the six-state
region of Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, Montana and
Expansion, research and new equipment continued over the
years. In 1992, the grand tradition of the Penrose Cancer
Center continued with the opening of a new building dedicated to
outpatient cancer treatment. This building was named the Orin
W. and Miriam B. Loo Pavilion in honor of the support from the Loo
Family. Community support for the Cancer Center continues
today through the El Pomar Foundation, Penrose-St. Francis
Foundation, and individual donors.
Today, Penrose Cancer Center continues the legacy of its past by
introducing new technologies, providing extensive support services
and offering patients the chance to participate in clinical trials
that provide the latest treatment opportunities and cancer
prevention. Through its affiliation with Catholic Health
Initiatives, Penrose Cancer Center received funding from the
National Cancer Center as a NCI
Community Cancer Center Program (NCCCP).
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