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M. D. Anderson Surprises Former President Bush with Two Birthday Gifts

M. D. Anderson Surprises Former President Bush with Two Birthday Gifts
Pediatric Clinic Named for Child Lost to Leukemia; Research Endowment Surpasses Goal of $50 Million 
M. D. Anderson News Release 06/12/2004

After giving The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center many years of passionate leadership and support, the institution is giving back to former President George H. W. Bush two birthday gifts that honor his commitment to cancer research and care.

In a surprise presentation to the Bush family June 12, M. D. Anderson named the Robin Bush Child and Adolescent Clinic for the three-year-old daughter the Bushes lost to leukemia in 1953, and announced that fundraising efforts have exceeded the $50 million goal for The George and Barbara Bush Endowment for Innovative Cancer Research. 

The two announcements were made by M. D. Anderson President John Mendelsohn, M.D. at an event attended by about 400 guests as part of the weekend-long celebration of the former president’s 80th birthday.

M. D. Anderson Cancer Center is one of three beneficiaries named by the Bushes to receive funds raised at the 41@80 birthday gala, parachute jump and related events.

The former President and Mrs. Bush have been involved with M. D. Anderson since 1977 when they joined the institution’s advisory group known as the Board of Visitors.  Mr. Bush served as chairman of the Board of Visitors from 2001 to 2003, never missing a meeting during his term.  He continues active involvement with the board as past chairman, attending regular advisory board and committee meetings.  Both the Bushes are lifetime members of the board.

“George and Barbara Bush’s commitment to M. D. Anderson is genuine, personal and extremely generous. They have embraced our mission to eliminate cancer, and joined with our 13,000 employees, 1,400 volunteers and 200 board members to help M. D. Anderson cultivate new friends, raise funds, communicate the need for visionary cancer research and help move our institutional agenda forward,” said Mendelsohn.  “They are a source of pride for employees, who want to stretch even further because a former president and first lady find great value in what they do.  For patients, they have been a point of comfort and strength when they have visited. For me, they are great friends from whom I have learned much.” 

The pediatric outpatient clinic will be named for Robin Bush in honor of the daughter the Bushes lost to leukemia in 1953.  Robin died just two months before she would have turned four years old.  

The colorful 8,200 square-foot clinic is located on the seventh floor of M. D. Anderson’s R. Lee Clark Clinic Building, and is composed of a 50-seat waiting room and playroom, 10 examination rooms, a pre-surgical center for same-day admissions and ambulatory care, a procedure room, two nursing pods, a post-anesthesia recovery area, a private consultation room, a pediatric ambulatory treatment center for administering chemotherapy and a laboratory. Young patients and their families come to this clinic for regular appointments with their attending pediatric oncologists and tests necessary to monitor their disease.  

“It is an honor for M. D. Anderson to pay tribute to a child — and her family — who sparked such inspiration and commitment to eradicating this disease,” said Eugenie Kleinerman, M.D., head of the Division of Pediatrics. “It takes great strength to come through losing a child, but to do so much for research that could save other children is truly courageous and uplifting to those families who are tested by cancer today.”

M. D. Anderson registers approximately 500 children per year for treatment or second opinions.  For 2004, the child and adolescent clinic will have more than 20,000 outpatients visits.

For the second surprise birthday gift, Mendelsohn announced that The George and Barbara Bush Endowment for Innovative Cancer Research, which was begun in 1998 in honor of Mr. Bush’s 75th and Mrs. Bush’s 74th birthdays, has surpassed its $50 million goal.

The endowment, which was launched with $10.2 million raised by the Bushes’ gala celebration known as “Milestones and Miracles,” was pushed over the $50 million mark by a generous gift from John Moran of Palm Beach, Fla.  Moran is a member of the National Finance Advisory Council of the Bush Endowment. 

Since 1999, The George and Barbara Bush Endowment for Innovative Cancer Research has provided 10 M. D. Anderson scientists a total of $1.35 million in funds for their research. The endowment is a permanent part of M. D. Anderson’s research program, and interest income provides the funds for scientists.

Lee Ellis, M.D., professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology and Department of Cancer Biology, was the first recipient of endowment funds. A surgeon who cares for patients diagnosed with cancers of the liver and colon, Ellis also conducts laboratory research, exploring the mechanisms of angiogenesis — the development of a blood supply that tumors need to survive.

“Support from the Bush Endowment has allowed me the chance to explore new areas of cancer research that may not be funded by other sources,” said Ellis. “Exploratory studies like mine and the others often require a great deal of data early on so that we can compete for funding from the National Cancer Institute and other sources.  The Bush Endowment funds allow us to follow our scientific intuitions and generate the data necessary for future funding.  To some, these early studies may seem risky, but often they can have the greatest payoff.  That’s the inherent value of seed money: we get to start on an important project that may otherwise be on the backburner for years.”

In addition to Ellis’ research in angiogenesis, the Bush Endowment also has funded studies in immunology, gene regulation, programmed cell death (apoptosis), molecular-genetic imaging, and smoking cessation in children and young adults.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center