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Six Texas Tobacco Settlement Attorneys Donate $8 Million for Cancer Research

Six Texas Tobacco Settlement Attorneys Donate $8 Million for Cancer Research
M. D. Anderson News Release 11/06/01

Teaming up this time for cancer research, six Texas attorneys who engineered the multi-billion-dollar settlement between the state of Texas and numerous tobacco companies have donated $8 million to The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The six donors are attorneys John M. O'Quinn of O'Quinn & Laminack, John E. Williams Jr. and F. Kenneth Bailey of Williams Bailey Law Firm, L.L.P., Harold W. Nix and C. Cary Patterson of Nix Patterson & Roach, L.L.P., and Walter Umphrey of Provost Umphrey Law Firm, L.L.P.

M. D. Anderson will place the generous contributions from the attorneys in its newly established President's Excellence Fund, which has been created to support promising innovative research projects that advance the institution's mission to eradicate cancer.

"As the 21st century unfolds, we have high hopes and expectations for many major advances against cancer. Much of our optimism for the future control of this age-old disease is built on the remarkable achievements made at M. D. Anderson over the past 60 years," says Dr. John Mendelsohn, president of M. D. Anderson.

Dr. Mendelsohn cites these reasons for being encouraged:

  • Understanding that cancers are caused by inherited or acquired mutations or malfunctions in key genes that control cell growth and DNA repair.
  • New insights about the molecular steps that regulate and carry out cell proliferation.
  • Better appreciation of how the body's immune response and blood vascular system affect clinical outcomes.
  • More effective cancer detection methods, including improved scanning machinery, and gene screening arrays to identify specific molecular abnormalities in individual patients.

"While such rapid advances give rise to unprecedented opportunities for progress, these new directions do not always have funding readily available. Through the President's Excellence Fund, M. D. Anderson will gain an extra edge in being able to quickly respond to many new ideas that our talented clinicians and scientists have," Dr. Mendelsohn says.

Research is the driving force that has propelled M. D. Anderson to its international reputation for scientific excellence and outstanding patient care. Today, the institution ranks first in the number of grants awarded in recent years by both the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society.

"But the federal and private funding entities are curtailing grants for new research ideas unless the researchers have already collected preliminary data. The President's Excellence Fund will give us additional support to expedite the funding of innovative research initiatives. Our investigators then can leverage these funds into grants from the National Cancer Institute and other sources,"
Dr. Mendelsohn says.

Dr. Mendelsohn expressed deep appreciation for the $8 million gift to the President's Excellence Fund.

"We are immensely grateful that these six gentlemen and their law firms have the confidence in M. D. Anderson's innovative research foundation to personally support the future of cancer research," he says.

"During the preparation of the tobacco case, we had the opportunity to work closely with scientists at M. D. Anderson and learn a great deal about the causes of cancer and how the disease devastates so many lives and families," Umphrey says. "Contributing to the President's Excellence Fund provides us with an opportunity to enhance M. D. Anderson's research efforts, ultimately helping cancer patients and benefiting the citizens of the state of Texas."

11/06/01


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