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Mendelsohn to Leave the 'Best Job'

Conquest - Spring 2011

John Mendelsohn, M.D., will be co-director 
of the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan 
Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy. 
Photo: Wyatt McSpadden

President will focus on his research passion

By Scott Merville

After 15 years as president of 
MD Anderson, John Mendelsohn, M.D., leaves a legacy of growth and excellence to turn his full focus to targeted cancer therapy research. This is a field he pioneered as a scientist and has championed as a leader.

As co-director of MD Anderson’s new Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy, he will return to clinical and translational research with Director Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Systems Biology.

“I’m truly thrilled to step into this new role,” Mendelsohn says. “I can again turn to what has been my passion for the past 30 years — working to develop and test new cancer therapies, which target the genetic and molecular abnormalities that cause the disease.”

Such targeted drugs open the door to customizing treatment based on the factors that drive an individual patient’s cancer.

Mendelsohn’s groundbreaking research on characterizing growth factor receptors and on blocking their stimulation of cell proliferation launched anti-receptor therapy as a cancer treatment.

A period of growth for MD Anderson

By virtually any measure, the institution has more than doubled in size during Mendelsohn’s tenure, while aiming for even higher excellence in patient care and research.

MD Anderson’s inpatient beds, outpatient clinical capacity, lab space, research grants, clinical trials, educational programs, budget and philanthropic donations greatly expanded.

New institutes and centers of excellence focus collaborative efforts on vital issues in research and clinical practice.

“John Mendelsohn is the epitome of a visionary leader,” UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., says. “Not only did he lead MD Anderson to be the nation’s — and arguably the world’s — greatest cancer center, he also brought out the best in the entire MD Anderson community.

“That’s why patients, their families and all those whose paths cross MD Anderson will always be grateful to John Mendelsohn. He’s an inspiration to The University of Texas System, and we’re fortunate that he’ll continue to make cancer history.”

Mendelsohn will serve as president until a new leader is in place. The University of Texas System Board of Regents has launched a national search.

The summer issue of Conquest will feature John Mendelsohn’s legacy and the significant achievements at MD Anderson under his leadership.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center