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Research: Donor Profile

Annual Report - 2006-2007

A Wise Investment

by Sarah Watson

T. Boone Pickens

Legendary oil businessman and philanthropist T. Boone Pickens wants to help change the face of health care.

Through the T. Boone Pickens Foundation, he gave M. D. Anderson $50 million to do just that. He also committed $50 million to UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. The gifts come with one stipulation — each institution must grow the $50 million into $500 million over the next 25 years before the funds can be spent. They can achieve this goal with earnings from the original principal, from new outside donations or from a combination of both.

Pickens says he wants to increase his focus on investments outside the traditional business world and into the philanthropic marketplace. He predicts the 25-year time span attached to the gifts won’t be necessary for M. D. Anderson or UT Southwestern.

“My objective is to invest in programs, initiatives and people who can have a great impact in America,” he says. “Each of these institutions has a history of raising money and using it wisely. I have little doubt that they’ll reach these objectives and help achieve unprecedented medical goals.”

In recognition of his gift, M. D. Anderson named its new 21-story, 730,000-square-foot academic building the T. Boone Pickens Academic Tower. The tower, scheduled to open in spring 2008, will house faculty and executive offices, classrooms and conference facilities. The top floor will feature a state-of-the-art cancer research library.

Pickens’ pioneering approach to supporting cancer research at M. D. Anderson began more than 20 years ago when he established the Boone Pickens Distinguished Professorship for the Early Prevention of Cancer. Since then, he’s supported the institution for many years with his time, including being a member of M. D. Anderson’s Board of Visitors from 1977 to 1986. He served as chair of the board from 1983 to 1984.

Born in the small town of Holdenville, Okla., Pickens worked for Phillips Petroleum for three years before starting his own company, Mesa Petroleum, in 1956. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, he grew the company to one of the world’s largest independent oil companies before selling it in 1996.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center