Ernst W. Bertner, M.D.
Acting director — 1942-1946
A native Texan who received his medical degree from the University of Texas in 1911, Ernst W. Bertner, M.D., began medical practice in Houston in 1913, limiting it to surgery and gynecology.
He became deeply interested in cancer control because of the increasing number of cancer patients who came to him for treatment. After the Texas Legislature created MD Anderson in 1941, and after a site in Houston was selected by the UT System Board of Regents, officials began to search for a director of the new institution.
A staff of one
In August 1942, Bertner agreed to become acting director until a permanent director could be found. He served as the institution's first and only staff member until December 1942.
A gifted organizer and a man of many interests, Bertner kept his attention focused on the new institution despite wartime conditions. He appointed the first members of the clinical staff, most of whom served on a volunteer basis. Bertner himself volunteered his services as a staff gynecologist.
As acting director of MD Anderson, Bertner was responsible for providing plans for a program, a staff and a budget with the money and temporary headquarters the institution possessed.
In February 1944, he oversaw the formal opening of what was then known as
MD Anderson Hospital for Cancer Research of The University of Texas.
Texas Medical Center calls
Bertner continued to serve as acting director of MD Anderson until 1946, when he was elected the first president of the Texas Medical Center, a position he held until 1950.
Bertner died from complications due to cancer in July 1950.