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A message from Ronald DePinho, M.D.

Promise - Fall 2012

At a Sept. 21 press conference announcing MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program, 
Ronald DePinho, M.D., president, recognizes patients, including triple negative 
breast cancer patient Bree Sandlin, at right facing audience, family members and 
bloggers in attendance as honored guests.

                                                                                    Photo by F. Carter Smith


It’s often said that MD Anderson is a place of hope. That has never been more true as we embark on the Moon Shots Program, an unprecedented mission to drastically reduce cancer mortality ― during the next decade.

Our initial focus is on eight inaugural cancers that are poised for accelerated progress on the basis of genetic knowledge, refined testing systems, depth of talent from prevention to survivorship and more. The diseases we feel we have the best shots at conquering include melanoma, lung cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia/myelodysplastic syndrome, prostate cancer and breast/ovarian cancers. In addition, we have identified opportunities in other cancers as well.


This comprehensive assault finds inspiration in President John F. Kennedy’s moving speech in September 1962 at Rice University, when he confirmed that the United States would endeavor to send a man to the moon ― in that decade. The nation would accept the challenges ahead, he said, “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Fifty years later, we’re at a similar point in the history of cancer science and cancer care. With a confluence of deep knowledge and myriad technological advances that have transformed science, the field has reached a level of conceptual and technical maturity where we can address the cancer problem once and for all.  MD Anderson has ― as the nation’s largest cancer center armed with the collective expertise and excellence of 19,000 employees, 7,000 trainees and a global collaborative network ― the critical mass to get the job done. The question before us is:  Will we harness our deep knowledge, the power of technology and the excellence of our people to embrace the challenge and seize the opportunity ― now? To borrow the words of JFK on that historic day in Houston, we choose to go to conquer cancer “because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energy and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone and one which we intend to win.”

It’s time to move the agenda forward.

But we need your help. All of the great ideas in the world and all of the technological breakthroughs that exist today will have little impact without the resources to support this complex initiative. Your philanthropic commitment will drive discovery and drug development, bringing us closer to new and more effective prevention and early detection capabilities, diagnostic methods, personalized therapies and, ultimately, better quality of life for all who survive this dreaded disease and face the joys of a cancer-free future.

We’re picking a fight with cancer. With your help, we can wrestle this disease to its knees. This is our moment, a time of hope, courage and definitive accomplishment. Thank you for your generous support and for joining us in Making Cancer History®.

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© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center