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DePinho Next MD Anderson President

Conquest - Summer 2011

Eminent researcher coming from Dana-Farber, Harvard Medical School

Ronald DePinho, M.D., will serve as the 
fourth full-time president of MD Anderson.
Photo: F. Carter Smith

A worldwide search for the fourth full-time president of MD Anderson has ended with the appointment of Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., by The University of Texas System Board of Regents.

He will be known as president-designate until he officially assumes the position on Sept. 1.

“Dr. DePinho is a distinguished scientist and proven administrator capable of leading the nation’s premier comprehensive cancer center,” Regents’ Chairman Gene Powell said. “He has an excellent background in teaching and research and a demonstrated ability to work effectively within complex medical institutions. The board is extremely confident he has the ability to advance the institution’s mission of ‘Making Cancer History®.’ ”

In accepting this post, DePinho leaves his positions as director of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and professor of medicine (genetics) at Harvard Medical School, both in Boston.

He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He also has held numerous faculty positions at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

The son of hard-working, Portuguese immigrants who believed in education, DePinho received a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Fordham College and his medical degree with distinction in microbiology and immunology from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

His research interests are in the genetic aspects of cancer and the translation of this knowledge into clinical applications. He has authored more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Looking for answers

DePinho’s interest in research grew from the reality that there were too many unanswered questions — too many “why’s” of disease. He says his efforts to find a cure for cancer are in honor of his father, who died of colorectal cancer at the same time DePinho became a professor at Harvard.

“The complexity of cancer is astounding and there’s a staggering unmet need for answers,” he told Fordham magazine in fall 2003. “I decided to shift gears from being a clinician treating patients to learning and doing basic science because I got frustrated telling patients and their families, ‘We just don’t know enough right now.’”

While shifting his efforts to understanding the genetic basis of cancer, a cardinal feature of his research program has been to convert basic and clinical knowledge into advances for patients.

“Ron DePinho is a visionary and energetic leader who is committed to achieving MD Anderson’s mission,” says John Mendelsohn, M.D., who has served as president for the past 15 years. “I’m confident that under his leadership, we will continue to pioneer advances in targeted cancer therapies."

DePinho’s wife, Lynda Chin, M.D., also will join the MD Anderson faculty. She most recently served as scientific director of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science, as well as professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School and professor of medical oncology at Dana-Farber.

An in-depth profile of DePinho will appear in the fall issue of Conquest.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center