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MD Anderson Cancer Center profile

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is one of the world’s most respected centers devoted exclusively to cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. It is located in central Houston in the Texas Medical Center.

MD Anderson was created in 1941 as part of The University of Texas System. The institution is one of the nation’s original three comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Act of 1971 and is one of 45 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers today.

U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” survey has ranked MD Anderson the nation’s top hospital for cancer care. MD Anderson has been ranked the leading cancer hospital for 11 of the past 14 years. The institution has been named one of the nation's top two hospitals for cancer care every year since the survey began in 1990. 

Patient care

Since 1944, 1 million patients have turned to MD Anderson for cancer care. The multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer was pioneered at the institution. This approach brings together teams of experts across disciplines to collaborate on the best treatment plan for patients. And because MD Anderson’s experts focus solely on cancer, they’re renowned for treating all types of cancer, including rare and uncommon diseases.

In Fiscal Year 2014, MD Anderson’s 20,000-plus cancer fighters provided care for more than 127,000 patients. The institution’s cancer clinical trial program is the largest in the nation. In FY14, more than 8,000 registrants participated in clinical trials exploring innovative treatments.

MD Anderson provided more than $196 million in uncompensated care to Texans with cancer in FY14. This figure includes unreimbursed costs of care for patients who either have no insurance or are underinsured, or whose care was not fully covered by government-sponsored health programs.

The institution is accredited by the Joint Commission, an organization that ensures patients receive the best and safest health care possible. MD Anderson’s radiation oncology practice is accredited by the American College of Radiology and the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology. The nursing program holds the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Nursing Services Recognition status, which acknowledges health care organizations for quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice.

The Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy is an international center of clinical excellence focusing on using the latest advances in genetic information to develop safe, more effective treatments for patients on a case-by-case basis.

Research

At MD Anderson, important scientific knowledge gained in the laboratory is rapidly translated to clinical care. In FY14, MD Anderson invested more than $735 million in research, an increase of 35% in the past five years.

An unprecedented Moon Shots Program was launched in 2012 to dramatically accelerate the pace of converting scientific discoveries into clinical advances that significantly reduce cancer deaths.

The program brings together teams of researchers and clinicians to mount comprehensive attacks on eight initial cancers. They work as part of six moon shot teams: acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, melanoma, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and triple-negative breast and high-grade serous ovarian cancers, which are linked at the molecular level.

As of Dec. 31, 2014, the program has received more than $217 million in private philanthropic commitments. The goal is for all cancers to become moon shots. Progress through 2014 includes:

  • Creation of an MD Anderson algorithm for deciding when ovarian cancer patients should have surgery. This systematic approach has more than doubled the rate of complete surgical removal of patients’ tumors from 25% to more than 80%.
  • Leadership in developing targeted therapies for CLL has cut the use of debilitating chemo combinations from 48% of new patients in 2012 to 15% today.
  • Identification by the Lung Cancer Moon Shot’s drug discovery program of two leukemia drugs with potential to treat certain lung cancer patients. A clinical trial of one of those drugs is underway.
  • The Melanoma Moon Shot provided expert information to the Texas Legislature, which led to a successful effort by a coalition of groups to persuade lawmakers to pass a statewide ban on the use of tanning beds by those under age 18.
  • Two new clinical trials, based on research findings at MD Anderson, aim to overcome resistance to standard-of-care therapy for myelodysplastic syndromes. One trial is the first to deploy the rising therapy of immune checkpoint blockade against leukemia.
  • The first “intent-to-cure” clinical trial for prostate cancer, based on clinical and scientific research at MD Anderson, aims to convert periodic hormone therapy for a subset of patients into a single-episode curative regimen.
  • Genetic testing for mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes is offered to
    MD Anderson patients with triple-negative breast cancer or high-grade serous ovarian cancer. The screening helps identify family members with risk-increasing mutations, offering enhanced opportunities for prevention and early detection.

GP2, a new breast cancer vaccine in development at MD Anderson, has been shown to reduce recurrence rates by 57%. High-risk patients who were given the vaccine after completion of the immunotherapy drug trastuzumab had no cancer recurrences.

The Institute for Applied Cancer Science identifies and validates new cancer targets, converts the scientific knowledge into new cancer drugs and advances the novel agents into innovative clinical trials. A team of IACS drug development experts identified and developed IACS-10759, which blocks the conversion of nutrients into the energy that fuels cancer cells.

During the past year, MD Anderson has received more than $47 million from The Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) for research, prevention, recruitment and training. In total, the institution has received more than $192 million from CPRIT since its formation.

MD Anderson’s expertise in cancer immunotherapy attracted the interest of a number of major pharmaceutical companies (Amgen, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer), which signed collaborative agreements to develop new ways for the immune system to destroy tumors. Biotech companies Intrexon and ZIOPHARM Oncology have licensed unique MD Anderson immunotherapy technology, including a new method for genetically engineering immune system T cells to target cancer. In addition, the institution is working with Bayer to capture important information from clinical trial patients about how certain investigational drugs affect them.

Prevention

MD Anderson continues to set the standard in cancer prevention research and the translation of new knowledge into innovative, multidisciplinary care.

The institution’s Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences division is dedicated to:

  • Ending cancer through pioneering research into the roles that biologic, genetic, environmental, economic, behavioral and social factors play in cancer development.
  • Investigating various types of interventions to prevent or reduce cancer risk.
  • Improving cancer care delivery, safety, availability and affordability

Through the Duncan Family Institute for Cancer Prevention and Risk Assessment, investments are being made in promising new research directions and integrating basic research and clinical studies to accelerate their translation from the lab to the clinic to the community.

The cancer prevention and control platform of the Moon Shots Program is focusing on the 800,000 new cancer cases each year that are avoidable. That’s possible through screening, early detection and by educating people about risk factors such as tobacco, obesity, unhealthy diets, sedentary lifestyles and excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Accomplishing this will require developing and implementing evidence-based interventions in public policy, public education and community-based clinical services.

One of those programs, EndTobacco, addresses public health enemy No. 1: preventable death and disease caused by tobacco use. It brings MD Anderson and other leaders in prevention and tobacco control together to end tobacco use and more rapidly decrease tobacco-related cancers through policy, education and community-based clinical services.

MD Anderson’s integrative health initiative expands evidence-based, patient-centered and research-driven clinical services in exercise, nutrition, psychosocial, complementary therapies and tobacco cessation for people at elevated risk for cancer, patients in treatment and cancer survivors.

The Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center provides cancer risk assessments; screening exams based on genetics, age and gender; and personalized risk-reduction strategies, including lifestyle-based interventions and chemoprevention.

MD Anderson has expanded its commitment to cancer prevention and control as a critical part of its mission. This work involves developing and implementing evidence-based interventions in public policy, public and professional education and community-based clinical services.

Faculty

The institution’s faculty members are among the most esteemed in the nation, including nine Institute of Medicine members, three National Academy of Sciences members, four Academy of Arts and Sciences fellows and 32 American Association for the Advancement of Science fellows.

Some noteworthy recent additions to the faculty include:

V. Craig Jordan, Ph.D., one of the world’s pre-eminent breast cancer research and treatment experts, transformed a once-failed contraceptive medication into a valuable breast cancer treatment that has saved countless lives. The drug, later named tamoxifen, originally was created to prevent pregnancy by blocking estrogen. Jordan, known as the “Father of Tamoxifen,” developed the strategy of long-term adjuvant tamoxifen therapy, in which breast cancer patients take tamoxifen after their primary treatment to lower the risk of recurrence. Jordan was the first to discover the preventive abilities of tamoxifen and the drug raloxifene, which are now approved by the Food and Drug Administration to reduce breast cancer incidence in high-risk women. He also described and deciphered the properties of a new group of medicines called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). As a professor in Breast Medical Oncology and Molecular and Cellular Oncology, Jordan focuses on the new biology of estrogen-induced cell death to develop translational approaches for treating and preventing cancer.

Debasish “Debu” Tripathy, M.D., chair of Breast Medical Oncology, is interested in understanding why breast cancer cells become resistant to drugs that initially work. His research focuses on resistance mechanisms to available drugs that block the function of a growth-promoting gene called HER2. He and his research team have discovered certain proteins that may cause resistance, and they’re testing strategies to reverse the proteins’ actions in the hopes of prolonging remissions or even curing patients with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer, which accounts for about a fifth of all breast cancer cases.

David Tweardy, M.D., head of Internal Medicine and professor of Infectious Diseases and Molecular & Cellular Oncology, is an infectious diseases specialist and a recognized expert in inflammation and apoptosis — the step-by-step process by which cells self-destruct. He has a career-long interest in the body’s response to microbial infections and traumatic injuries and the role such injuries play in the onset of cancer. Tweardy also is investigating a protein called Stat3, which has been found to play a fundamental role in converting normal cells to cancerous cells. He and his team developed Stat3 inhibitors to aid in this research. He’s also developing novel treatments for primary immunodeficiency disorders.

Stephen Hahn, M.D., is chair of Radiation Oncology and an international leader in the field. An active clinician who is board certified in radiation oncology, medical oncology and internal medicine, his clinical interests and expertise include both lung cancer and sarcoma. His research focuses on the molecular causes of the tumor microenvironment, particularly the study of chemical signals that go awry. He also studies proton therapy’s role in improving the efficiency of radiation therapy. Hahn is a member of the board of directors for the American Society for Radiation Oncology, and was named a Fellow of the society in 2013.

Education

In FY14, close to 6,500 trainees, including physicians, scientists, nurses and allied health professionals, took part in MD Anderson educational programs. More than 300 students attended the institution’s School of Health Professions, which offers bachelor’s degrees in eight allied health disciplines and a master of science in diagnostic genetics program.

The MD Anderson Oncology Assistant Fellowship Program prepares physician assistants for a career in adult medical, surgical and radiation oncology. The competitive one-year program is the only physician assistant oncology fellowship in the country.

Almost 1,300 clinical residents and fellows come to MD Anderson each year to receive specialized training in the investigation and treatment of cancer. More than 400 graduate students are working on advanced degrees at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, which the institution operates with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Its labs provide training for 1,700-plus research trainees.

Thousands more participate in continuing education and distance-learning opportunities sponsored by MD Anderson, sharing knowledge around the globe. The institution also provides public education programs to teach healthy people and at-risk populations about cancer symptoms and risk factors, offering information that can help them make critical health care decisions.

Staff

MD Anderson employs close to 20,000 people, including almost 1,700 faculty members. A volunteer workforce of 1,080 contributed 164,970 hours of service in FY14. Employees and volunteers work together toward fulfilling the institution’s mission of ending cancer as a major health threat.

MD Anderson’s commitment to those who have served in our nation’s military earned it a spot on the 2014 Best for Vets employer list. Becker’s Healthcare recognized MD Anderson as one of the “150 Great Places to Work in Healthcare” for 2014.

Institutional Advancement 

Institutional Advancement works to position MD Anderson as the global leader to end cancer and inspire communities and people worldwide to join us in Making Cancer History®.

Noteworthy:

Philanthropic gifts are essential to MD Anderson’s lifesaving work. In FY14, our donors generously committed more than $239 million, in the form of cash, pledges and planned gifts.

MD Anderson partnered with Stripes Convenience Stores to raise funds for
MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. In its Celebrates Tomorrows campaign, employees and customers purchased $1 pinups to help kids with cancer. The initiative raised more than $1.4 million. The James B. and Lois R. Archer Charitable Foundation and Triumph Over Kid Cancer Foundation matched all donations, doubling the amount to more than $2.8 million.

In an effort to encourage healthy eating habits and prevent cancer related to obesity, MD Anderson nutritionists teamed with Jason’s Deli to create a wild salmon salad for the menu. The partnership also raised more than $250,000 for the Breast Cancer Moon Shot through the sale of co-branded bottles of water.

Facilities

With employees working in more than 50 buildings in the greater Houston area and in central Texas,
MD Anderson is the largest freestanding cancer center in the world.Its facilities in the Texas Medical Center cover more than 14 million square feet and feature the latest equipment and facilities to support growing needs in outpatient and inpatient care, research, prevention and education.

Construction of the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Building for Personalized Cancer Care was completed in January, and the activation process began in early February with the Sheikh Ahmed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research. The 12-floor, 615,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to be fully occupied by October 2015.

To provide a much-needed expansion of space for clinical, diagnostic and support services in the Main Building, construction is underway on The Pavilion, an adjoining 8-story, 184,800-square-foot building. The $198 million project, which is scheduled for completion by the end of 2015, will allow MD Anderson to treat more patients and improve patient services.

The Children’s Cancer Hospital features two inpatient pods, the Pediatric Ambulatory Treatment Center and Patient Intensive Care Services and 46 beds. With family sleep rooms, the hospital also provides patients and their families a sense of normalcy, as well as a multimedia classroom and the PediDome, complete with a play area and basketball court. A number of clinical trials for pediatric cancer patients also are available.

MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for patient-students in pre-K through 12th grade.

MD Anderson has Houston-area locations in the Texas Medical Center, Bay Area, Katy, West Houston (diagnostic imaging), Sugar Land, The Woodlands, Bellaire (diagnostic imaging) and Memorial City (surgery). MD Anderson physicians also provide cancer care to patients at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston. In addition, there are two research campuses in Bastrop County, Texas. It is the exclusive provider of breast radiology services for five of Memorial Hermann’s 10 breast care centers in the Houston area — Memorial City, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, and Northeast and Southwest Houston. The institution also has developed a network of national and international locations.

MD Anderson Cancer Network®

Partner members

Associate Member

Certified members

  • 12 hospitals and health systems in 10 states

Affiliates

Sister institutions

Academic collaborations with 29 sister institutions in 22 countries.

For more information about MD Anderson, visit MD Anderson's website or 
call 877-632-6789.

Updated February 2015

MD Anderson: Quick look

Created: 1941

First patient: 1944 (approximately 1 million patients treated overall)

Ranking: No. 1 in cancer care, America’s Best Hospitals, U.S. News and World Report (ranked in the top two every year since 1990)

Employees: 19,973

Faculty: 1,685

Volunteers: 1,080

Trainees: 6,341

Average number of inpatient beds: 654

Active clinical research protocols: 1,101 (more than 8,000 patient registrants)


© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center