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Mulvas give $5 million to melanoma research

Mulvas give $5 million to melanoma research

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Jim and Miriam Mulva have made melanoma research a philanthropic priority since their son’s experience at MD Anderson four years ago. 
Photo by John Everett

By Michelle Moore

Jim Mulva is the CEO of ConocoPhillips. His wife, Miriam, is his support system and a powerful force in her own right. What’s most impressive, however, are the gracious demeanors and philanthropic hearts that guide their professional and personal lives.

Their recent $5 million contribution to the Miriam and Jim Mulva Fund for Melanoma Research, for example, reflects their goal to help a team of doctors at MD Anderson make advances in melanoma in a way that provides tangible success and helps patients. The gift will support the research of Patrick Hwu, M.D., chair of the Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology; Elizabeth Grimm, M.D., Ph.D., professor, departments of Experimental Therapeutics and Melanoma Medical Oncology; and Jeff E. Lee, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgical Oncology and co-director of the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Research Program.

“They’re working hard to map tumors through individualized therapy, to eradicate the tumors and save lives,” says Miriam. “We’re proud and pleased to be a part of that. We met the doctors, and they’re so committed to and excited about what they’re doing. It was contagious.”

ConocoPhillips has been involved with MD Anderson for many years, says Jim.

“We refer our employees and retirees from all around the world there because it’s the premier cancer institution in the world. I’m proud to be affiliated with, help and know MD Anderson.”

The Mulvas’ relationship with MD Anderson took on a more personal note four years ago, when their youngest son Jonathan was diagnosed with melanoma just three weeks before his wedding.

Jonathan’s diagnosis came as a complete surprise, says his mother.

“He had an annual physical exam including a visit to the dermatologist,” says Miriam. “He went to MD Anderson after finding a malignant mole on his forehead. They did such an incredible job, and we were so pleased with everyone from the administration to the doctors and surgeons.”

Jim Mulva has been on The University Cancer Foundation Board of Visitors since 2003 and has enjoyed seeing the fruits of his labor firsthand.

“It’s just a natural fit for us to want to support MD Anderson,” he says.  “It’s such an incredible institution, and while it’s very large, it’s still very personal. Everyone there is committed to what they’re doing. It’s inspiring to see.”

Giving back is one of the Mulvas’ top priorities. Both Jim and Miriam are involved in numerous charitable efforts supporting education, youths and medicine.

“We’ve been blessed,” says Jim. “What we have is not necessarily ours, and it’s important what we do with it. The kind of commitment, clinical work and research going on at MD Anderson to extend and save lives takes financial resources. The more we all do this together in a national way, the more we’ll help MD Anderson with its mission of Making Cancer History®.”

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© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center