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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 68 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers today.

U.S. News & World Report’s "Best Hospitals" survey has ranked MD Anderson as one of the nation’s top two cancer centers every year since the survey began in 1990.

Patient care

Since 1944, more than 977,000 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 or uncommon diseases.

In Fiscal Year 2013, MD Anderson’s 20,000 cancer fighters provided care for more than 120,000 patients. Of those, nearly one-third were new patients. About one-third of patients come to Houston from outside Texas, seeking the knowledge-based care that has made MD Anderson so widely respected. There were about 7,600 registrants on clinical trials exploring innovative treatments in FY13. The institution’s cancer clinical trial program is the largest in the nation.

The Institute for Cancer Care Innovation is helping MD Anderson lead the way in developing an improved cancer-care model through studies that determine the best methods to deliver care that’s safe, timely, efficient, effective, equitable and patient-centered.

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 Magnet Nursing Services Recognition status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

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.


At MD Anderson, important scientific knowledge gained in the laboratory is rapidly translated to clinical care. In FY13, MD Anderson invested more than $670 million in research, an increase of 31% in the past five years. The institution ranks first in total amount of grant dollars from the National Cancer Institute.

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 cancers initially. 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. So far, the program has received almost $213 million in private philanthropic commitments. The goal is for all cancers to become moon shots.

Progress so far includes: MD Anderson’s role in the Texas Legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 329. The legislation, which took effect Sept. 1, 2013, bans the use of tanning beds for anyone under the age of 18. Genetic testing for mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes is offered to patients with triple-negative breast cancer or high-grade serous ovarian cancer. And “curative intent” trials have been launched, with the goal of eradicating disease in a significant fraction of men with advanced prostate cancer.

MD Anderson physicians were instrumental in the development of ibrutinib, which was approved in February by the Food and Drug Administration for treating chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients who’ve received a previous treatment. The drug, known commercially as Imbruvica, achieves higher response rates with milder side effects than traditional treatments for the disease. MD Anderson physicians continue to lead clinical trials, including those for new combinations, and lab studies to better understand how ibrutinib works and how drug resistance develops. Combining the drug with the antibody rituximab boosted the response rate to 95% in a clinical trial led by Jan Burger, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in Leukemia. At 18 months, 78% of a 40-patient group showed no disease progression.


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

  • Eradicating cancer through pioneering research into the roles played by biologic, genetic, environmental, economic, behavioral and social factors in its development.
  • Investigating various types of interventions to prevent or reduce cancer risk.

The new Health Services Research department is focused on studying health care costs, quality and access, and seeking ways to improve the delivery, safety, availability and affordability of cancer care.

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 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.

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 Cancer Prevention Center provides cancer-risk assessments, screening exams based on genetics, age and gender, and personalized risk-reduction strategies, including chemoprevention.


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 and four Academy of Arts and Sciences fellows. Some noteworthy additions to the faculty in recent years include:

James Allison, Ph.D., chair of Immunology, who leads the field and at MD Anderson is developing a breakthrough cancer treatment to unleash the immune system on cancer. The journal Science named cancer immunotherapy its 2013 Breakthrough of the Year, just one of many accolades for the rising tide of treatments pioneered by Allison, who was the first to reveal how tumors sideline the immune system using immune checkpoint molecules to halt immune response. His discovery and development of T cell checkpoint blockade led to a new class of medicine that frees the immune system to attack cancer, extending survival for patients with late stage-melanoma and even curing the disease in some cases. Among the prestigious awards given to Allison recently are the Economist’s 2013 Innovation Award for Bioscience, the 2014 Canada Gairdner International Award and a $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, which recognizes researchers whose work extends human life.

Anirban Maitra, M.B.B.S., a pre-eminent expert in the genetics of pancreatic cancer and the development of targeted therapies for the disease, is co-director and scientific director of the Sheikh Ahmed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Maitra, professor in Pathology, was an integral part of the research team that uncovered what he calls “the mutational landscapes” of pancreatic cancer during the past decade. He also develops biologically relevant animal models of the disease that are leading to clinical trials of new approaches. Maitra is devoted to translating work done in the lab into clinical applications for patients. Maitra came to MD Anderson in August of 2013 from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, where he was a professor in Pathology and Oncology.

Andrew Futreal, Ph.D., professor in Genomic Medicine, is a pioneer in large-scale systematic cancer genomics, which led to the identification of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast/ovarian cancer susceptibility genes, BRAF mutations in melanoma, ERBB2 mutations in non-small cell lung cancer and multiple new cancer genes in renal cell carcinoma. He received the National Institutes of Health Public Service Award for his work on the BRCA1 gene, mutations of which significantly raise the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. Along with Lynda Chin, M.D., chair of Genomic Medicine, Futreal is a moon shots platform leader of the APOLLO (Adaptive Patient-Oriented Longitudinal Learning and Optimization) program, which is used for the long-term collection of patients’ medical history and data derived from their biological samples. APOLLO organizes data to ensure that the information it provides — medical and clinical data and genomic profiles — is relevant to each patient and collected in a way that allows for analyses to generate new ideas that improve survival rates and quality of life for patients. Futreal was the co-director of the Cancer Genome Project at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom before beginning at MD Anderson in July 2012.

Raghu Kalluri, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Cancer Biology, is an expert in the microenvironment that surrounds and supports cells and the role it plays in disease, including cancer and fibrosis. He helped discover that a protein known as HE4 inhibits other proteins called proteases from destroying collagen and other supportive material, which are the predominant scar material in fibrosis, a known risk factor for cancer development. The incurable, runaway wound-healing process damages and ultimately destroys organs such as the lungs, liver and kidneys. He also studies important cellular transitions from one cell type to another that are important in fibrosis and cancer progression. Before making the move to MD Anderson in June 2013, Kalluri spent 16 years at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Samir Hanash, M.D., Ph.D., professor in Clinical Cancer Prevention, is leading a team that has identified a promising panel of blood markers for the early detection of lung cancer and is initiating pivotal validation studies and diagnostic development efforts. An expert in proteomics, the large-scale study of proteins and their function, Hanash is the head of the Red and Charline McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer — an institute comprising seven centers focused on molecular-based approaches to cancer diagnosis and management. Protein biomarkers have great potential for early diagnosis of disease and can be used to guide treatment. Before being recruited to 
MD Anderson, Hanash was program head for Molecular Diagnostics at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.


In FY13, nearly 6,500 trainees, including physicians, scientists, nurses and allied health professionals, took part in MD Anderson educational programs. Close to 300 students attended the institution’s School of Health Professions, which offers bachelor’s degrees in eight allied health disciplines. The school launched a master of science in diagnostic genetics program in 2013.

Around 1,200 clinical residents and fellows come to MD Anderson each year to receive specialized training in the investigation and treatment of cancer. More than 450 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 laboratories 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.


MD Anderson employs more than 19,500 people, including more than 1,600 faculty members. A volunteer workforce of 1,200 contributed 193,921 hours of service in FY13. Our employees and volunteers work together toward fulfilling 
MD Anderson’s mission of eliminating 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 2013 Best for Vets employer list. For the sixth consecutive year, the American Association of Retired Persons selected the institution as one of the Best Employers for Workers Over 50, placing it at No. 4. And the online career site Glassdoor named MD Anderson among the top five Best Places to Work for 2013.


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 — the largest medical center in the world — 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.

The Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Building for Personalized Cancer Care is under construction. The 12-floor, 626,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to be completed in August 2014.

To provide a much-needed expansion of space for clinical, diagnostic and support services in the Main Building, construction is underway on The Pavilion. 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 a total of 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 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 the underserved at Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital in Houston. In addition, there are two research campuses in Bastrop County, Texas. The institution also has developed a network of national and international locations.

MD Anderson Cancer Network®

Partner members

Associate Member

  • Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, São Paulo

Certified members

  • 13 health systems and hospitals in 12 states


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 October 2014

MD Anderson: Quick look

Created: 1941

First patient: 1944 (more than 977,000 patients treated overall)

Ranking: No. 2 in cancer care, America’s Best Hospitals, U.S. News and World Report (ranked in the top two for the past 25 years)

Employees: 19,655

Faculty: 1,671

Volunteers: 1,200

Trainees: 6,474

Average number of operating beds: 656

Research grants: No. 1 in grants awarded and total grant dollars by the National Cancer Institute

Active clinical research protocols: 1,065 (about 7,600 patient registrants)

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center