Since its 1941 inception, MD Anderson has been led by five full-time presidents and one acting director.
Through their leadership, these men took MD Anderson from a staff of one to the world’s foremost center focused on cancer research, patient care, prevention and education.
The following individuals have made significant contributions to progress against cancer in Texas, the nation and the world:
Ronald DePinho, M.D. - President, 2011-2017
Ronald DePinho, M.D., MD Anderson's fourth full-time president, is internationally recognized for basic and translational research in cancer, aging and age-associated degenerative disorders. During his tenure, he launched MD Anderson’s ambitious Moon Shots Program.
DePinho continues his research in the department of cancer biology.
John Mendelsohn, M.D. — President, 1996-2011
During his presidency, John Mendelsohn, M.D., saw the institution more than double in size and launched MD Anderson’s largest fundraising campaign, Making Cancer History®: The Campaign to Transform Cancer Care.
Mendelsohn was named president emeritus in 2018.
Charles A. LeMaistre, M.D. — President, 1978-1996
Charles A. LeMaistre, M.D. took the reins at MD Anderson after serving seven years as chancellor of The University of Texas System.
As one of the physicians on the first U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health, which in 1964 issued its landmark report identifying cigarettes as a major health hazard, LeMaistre was dedicated to cancer prevention.
He established the cancer prevention program at MD Anderson, developing it into an international model of research and service initiatives that advanced the science and application of cancer prevention.
R. Lee Clark, M.D. — Director, 1946-1968; President — 1968-1978
Though his official title changed, R. Lee Clark, M.D., served as a chief administrator of a University of Texas System institution longer than anyone in the system’s history.
During his 32-year tenure, Clark was an early advocate of the team approach to treating cancer patients. After being designated one of the first three comprehensive cancer centers in the U.S. under the National Cancer Act of 1971, MD Anderson was the prototype for comprehensive cancer facilities throughout the world.
Ernst W. Bertner, M.D. — Acting director, 1942-1946
For the first few months of MD Anderson’s existence, Ernst W. Bertner, M.D., was the institution’s only staff member.
A gifted organizer deeply interested in cancer control, Bertner planned the program, staff and budget that would become MD Anderson.
In February 1944, he oversaw the formal opening of what was then known as MD Anderson Hospital for Cancer Research of The University of Texas.