During her forty-five years working with the Children's Cancer Group (CCG) at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Anneliese Sitarz saw cancer survival in children surge from 1 percent to 80 percent. The National Cancer Institute established the CCG program in 1955 to study the potential of antileukemic agents in children. At the fortieth anniversary of CCG, Dr. Sitarz, one of the founding investigators, was recognized for her contributions to the study and improved treatments for leukemia.
Born in Medellin, Columbia, South America, in 1928, Anneliese Sitarz wanted to become a doctor from the time she was 13 years old, and was encouraged by her father to follow that dream. She had experienced the death of two young siblings, which became part of her motivation to train as a physician. After graduating from Bryn Mawr College in 1950, she received her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1954. She interned at Children's Medical Center in Boston from 1954 to 1955, and completed her pediatric residency, from 1955 to 1957, at Babies Hospital of Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. She was affiliated with New York-Presbyterian Hospital ever since.
Dr. Sitarz first joined the staff of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1957 as an assistant in pediatrics, and has been tenured since 1973. She became a professor emerita of clinical pediatrics and a special lecturer in pediatrics. One of the community programs she ran at Babies & Children's Hospital was a monthly meeting, "Parents Caring for Children with Cancer." Attended by a pediatric oncologist and psychologist, the session allowed parents to share questions and experiences.
In addition to her leukemia research at the Children's Cancer Group, Dr. Sitarz' research also showed that a variety of tumors in children responded to chemotherapy. Sitarz also served on the CCG committee which established the criteria for evaluating children's responses.
Dr. Sitarz was a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society of Hematology, the American Association for Cancer Research, and the International Society of Hematology.