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Picture This: John Mendelsohn's Office

Conquest - Summer 2011

President’s home away 
from home

By David Berkowitz

When he’s not in meetings on campus, attending events in the community, or traveling the country and the world on behalf of MD Anderson, John Mendelsohn, M.D., makes his home on the 20th floor of Pickens Academic Tower.

Here, decisions are made every day that impact the world’s largest comprehensive cancer center.

For most of his 15 years as president, Mendelsohn reported to work across the street on the 11th floor of the Main Building. When his office moved to Pickens Academic Tower in August 2010, Mendelsohn brought with him many of the reference materials and items of inspirational and sentimental significance that he’s collected during his career.

Here’s what the office looked like one spring afternoon when Mendelsohn returned from a business meeting:

John Mendelsohn, M.D., in his office in Pickens Academic Tower. (Note: click on the 
image to view a larger version.)
Photo: F. Carter Smith

1. John Mendelsohn, M.D.: Following Charles LeMaistre, M.D., in 1996, Mendelsohn is the third full-time president in the institution’s 70-year history. 
R. Lee Clark was MD Anderson’s first president.

2. Cancer journals: Among a large collection of cancer-related publications is Clinical Cancer Research, for which Mendelsohn served as the founding editor for 10 years. He has been on editorial boards for numerous other journals.

3. Framed photos: These images show Mendelsohn with larger-than-life figures such as philanthropist T. Boone Pickens; President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush; President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush; professional golfer Jack Nicklaus; cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong; boxer George Foreman; and Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell and James Baker.

4. Wire baskets: As an organizational device, these baskets offer some insight to Mendelsohn’s priorities at any given time. They contain topic-specific information, and their placement within the office generally indicates how active a subject or project is.

5. Awards: Mendelsohn has received a number of significant honors during his nearly 50-year career, including (6.) the 2006 Dan David Prize in Cancer Therapy that recognized innovation in cancer research.

7. Panoramic view: The 20th floor vantage point provides Mendelsohn and visitors with a wonderful view of MD Anderson’s main campus, as well as the Texas Medical Center and beyond toward downtown Houston.

8. Framed lithograph: This image portrays the Greek god Prometheus, who represents forethought and knowledge kindling, and serves as a source of inspiration for Mendelsohn.

9. Dictionary: A lover of just the right word, Mendelsohn often refers to this Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, copyright 1976. Resting on a lectern, it provides 2,662 pages of definitions.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center