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M. D. Anderson Turns 60, Plans Celebratory Gala

M. D. Anderson Turns 60, Plans Celebratory Gala
George and Barbara Bush to Usher in Festivities

M. D. Anderson News Release 03/26/01

In black tie fashion, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center will mark six decades of making cancer history with an anniversary gala Nov. 1 on the baseball diamond of Enron Field.

"This anniversary event will be an opportunity to commemorate 60 years of advancements in the science of cancer, and to rededicate ourselves to the promise of life-saving discoveries just ahead," says Dr. John Mendelsohn, M. D. Anderson president.  "The spirit of the evening and the entire anniversary year will salute our faculty, staff, donors and volunteers.  The energy and ingenuity of our people have made M. D. Anderson the world's leading cancer center."

In a period of significant yet calculated growth, M. D. Anderson and its supporters have a lot to celebrate, both past and future.

President George and Barbara Bush are lending excitement to the fund-raising festivities, serving as honorary event co-chairs and ushering in the former President's two-year term as chairman of M. D. Anderson's Board of Visitors, which begins September.

Houston Board of Visitors Member Pete Coneway, with his wife, Lynn, and Bill and Marie Wise, who is also a Houston M. D. Anderson Board member, will co-chair the anniversary affair.

Being among the first organizations to host a gala at Enron Field - with its historic Union Station connection - allows partygoers to venture back to a spot in Houston's history not far from where M. D. Anderson first planted its roots at the old James A. Baker estate called "The Oaks," at Baldwin and Bagby Streets.

Like Houston and the neighborhood around Enron Field, M. D. Anderson has changed and made a great impact.

In 1941, the original M. D. Anderson was a modest endeavor born out of the old Baker family estate in present-day Midtown.  The property housed an outpatient clinic in surplus Army barracks and a research facility that had been fashioned out of the carriage house.  Today, M. D. Anderson facilities in Houston and Central Texas (Smithville and Bastrop) total more than 5 million square feet, and nearly 500,000 patients have received care over the last 60 years.

That first year, M. D. Anderson spent $15,312 enabling four scientists to examine the cancer problem.  Little was known about how cancer started or spread at that time, and only two scientific departments were created:  biology and biochemistry.  Since then, the institution's total research investment has topped $2 billion to support work now being done in 575 laboratories in many disciplines.

When M. D. Anderson first opened its doors, the five-year survival rate for cancer was an abysmal 25 percent, according to American Cancer Society figures.  Today, with the availability of many standard therapies first developed at M. D. Anderson, that five-year survival rate has risen to 60 percent.

Ultimately, for excellence in patient care and research advances, last July U. S.News & World Report named M. D. Anderson as the country's top cancer hospital. 

The event co-chairs decided that "to commemorate such an impressive history made possible through the talents of so many people," they want anniversary event supporters to decide for themselves how their contributions will help make a difference in M. D. Anderson's future accomplishments.

Consequently, gala event organizers have selected an unusual approach to the designation of proceeds.  All event contributors are invited to select the M. D. Anderson program that will benefit from their donation.  Although donors can direct their gifts to any M. D. Anderson initiative, four primary funding priorities are being suggested for consideration:

  • Cancer prevention
  • The George and Barbara Bush Endowment for Innovative Cancer Research, which helps launch emerging research endeavors
  • Physician-Scientist Program, which provides resources enabling faculty members to simultaneously conduct laboratory research and provide high-quality patient care, and
  • Research Trust, an endowment to assist in competitively recruiting top scientists from around the world.

Gala party details are still under wraps.  However, the veteran special events team Ward & Ames, which engineered the spectacular Milestones & Miracles birthday celebration for the Bushes that benefited M. D. Anderson in June 1999, is again on board to orchestrate the anniversary affair.

For ticket information, please call 800/525-5841 or 713/792-3450.


© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center