Mendelsohn Has ‘Big Plans’ for the Future of M. D. Anderson
"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work... " - Daniel H. Burnham, distinguished architect, 1846-1912.
The late Dr. R. Lee Clark often quoted the words of architect Daniel H. Burnham. In fact, Dr. Clark adopted those words as a motto for his dream of building an internationally renowned cancer center from the research hospital created by the Texas Legislature in 1941.
Today, Dr. John Mendelsohn continues the tradition of "making no little plans."
As the third president of The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center - following Dr. Clark who served 1946-1978 and Dr. Charles A. LeMaistre, president, 1978-1996 - Dr. Mendelsohn stands at the helm as the renowned cancer center celebrates its 60th anniversary during a period of unprecedented growth.
Since Dr. Mendelsohn’s arrival in 1996, M. D. Anderson’s patient care activities have increased by 40 to 50% in most areas, and an additional 262 faculty members have been recruited. A total faculty of 979 cancer physicians and scientists successfully competes for research dollars, currently leading the nation in the number of grants awarded nationwide by both the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society.
Last year alone, hospital admissions exceeded 17,000, while outpatient clinic visits, treatments and procedures topped 448,000. A public institution under the umbrella of The University of Texas System, M. D. Anderson last year spent more than $121 million in unsponsored charity care for Texans.
Also last year, M. D. Anderson attracted a record-breaking $86.9 million in private philanthropy. Adding to the cancer center’s international prestige, former President George Bush is in line to chair the institution’s Board of Visitors for a two-year term beginning Sept. 1.
"Our successes have led to a wonderful record of growth and accomplishment," says Dr. Mendelsohn, himself an internationally recognized oncologist and clinical scientist whose research with growth factors is creating new therapies for cancer.
"But," he cautions, "growth brings new challenges as we manage increasing demands for patient services, expand our research programs, carry out even greater numbers of clinical trials of new therapies, and improve systems and processes.
I have complete confidence that we have the faculty, staff and volunteers to achieve these goals."
Among Dr. Mendelsohn’s big plans for M. D. Anderson’s future:
- Develop new clinical strategies through research programs in prevention, diagnosis and treatment that target specific genetic and molecular abnormalities and biological responses.
- Aim to be the leading scientific presence in cancer and continually strive to increase the number of nationally recognized research leaders on the faculty.
- Enhance the quality of service to patients with cancer and serve as a national model for patient safety.
- Make the M. D. Anderson standard of care available more widely, either through computer-based care management systems or a limited number of off-site facilities.
- Make M. D. Anderson an "employer of choice" in a highly competitive job market.
- Award academic degrees - including the institution’s first bachelor’s degrees, to be awarded later this year - and train more students in all oncology disciplines.
- Build new facilities to meet demands for patient service and to house expanding research activities.
"Our success and international stature are based on our research-driven, outstanding patient care," says Dr. Mendelsohn. "Growth must occur in a context which enables us to continue to carry out pioneering research at all levels - basic, translational, clinical and population, and in all aspects of cancer - pathogenesis, prevention, diagnosis and treatment."
Research efforts will be boosted by M. D. Anderson’s 505,000-square-foot high-tech Basic Sciences Research Building currently under construction for opening in 2003.
Also in the planning stages are a 600,000-square-foot Ambulatory Clinical Building and an additional 132,000-square-foot research building on the nearby South campus. Earlier this year M. D. Anderson opened a 13-story office center housing 1,700 faculty and staff and a 198-room expansion of its Jesse H. Jones Rotary House International patient/family hotel.
"This is an exciting time for us at M. D. Anderson, and we begin a new decade strong in our shared resolve to eliminate cancer," Dr. Mendelsohn says. "From our modest beginnings in the old Baker family estate to this expansive complex for research and patient care, you can be sure that M. D. Anderson’s history - and future - hold no little plans."