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Lyda Hill commits $50 million to Moon Shots Program

Cancer Prevention Center to be named in honor of Dallas philanthropist

Lyda Hill stands in front of her mineral and gem collection in her office. The Dallas-based philanthropist has made the largest private gift to date to MD Anderson's Moon Shots Program. Photo by David Woo

By Sarah Watson

Dallas-based businesswoman, philanthropist, volunteer and environmentalist Lyda Hill has pledged $50 million to MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program. Her transformational gift is the largest single private philanthropic contribution to date in support of this ambitious effort to dramatically reduce cancer deaths.

In recognition of Hill’s generosity to the program, the institution will name the Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center in her honor.

“I’m excited about the Moon Shots Program,” says Hill. “It represents a different direction for research that crosses disciplines and offers new hope for breaking cancer’s codes. I’m pleased to offer my support to this historic effort.”

Hill’s milestone gift will be broadly applied across the cancer care continuum of prevention, detection, treatment and survivorship and will contribute to the success of the entire program, especially in early detection, risk assessment and the development of more effective treatments for multiple cancer types. It will support high-priority projects including:

  • the lung cancer team’s efforts to develop more reliable, low-cost screenings that can be available in community clinics, including blood-based biomarkers to detect the disease at its earliest stages;
  • the breast/ovarian cancer team’s integrated program to screen patients for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations and to prescribe new personalized therapies.

“We’re astounded by Lyda Hill’s incredible generosity and humbled by her commitment to cancer patients and their families through this truly transformative gift,” says Ronald DePinho, M.D., president of MD Anderson.

A senior member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors, Hill is a longtime proponent of scientific research and biomedical advancement. She’s president of LH Holdings and the Lyda Hill Foundation, which supports initiatives that increase the understanding of nature and science. As a member of The Giving Pledge, established by the Bill Gates Foundation, she has pledged to donate the majority of her wealth to charity.

Hill earned a degree in mathematics from Hollins University in 1964 and received its Outstanding Alumnae Award in 2009. Among her other numerous awards and honors are:

  • Junior League of Dallas Lifetime Achievement Award, 2011
  • Association of Fundraising Professionals Fundraiser of the Year, Dallas, 2007
  • Leadership Dallas Outstanding Alumni Award, 2004
  • Headliners of the Year Award, Fort Worth Press Club, 1993
  • Newsmaker of the Year Award, Fort Worth, 1992;
  • Governor’s Award, Outstanding Volunteer in Texas, 1988.

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center