Donors Make A Difference

Leaders and Friends of the South Campus Research Initiative

Lowry and Peggy Mays

Clear Channel Communications Chair Lowry Mays and his wife, Peggy, have given $20 million to MD Anderson to support the Red and Charline McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer.

To recognize the Mays family and thank them for their gift, the UT System Board of Regents named the 780,000-square-foot Ambulatory Clinical Building in their honor Dec. 5. The Lowry and Peggy Mays Ambulatory Clinical Building opened its doors to patients in January of this year, marking the first patient care facility in MD Anderson’s history to be built apart from the main campus at 1515 Holcombe Blvd. It houses the Nellie B. Connally Breast Center, the Laura Lee Blanton Gynecologic Oncology Center, the Genitourinary Oncology Center and an expanded 75-bed ambulatory treatment center.

Mays has served on MD Anderson’s University Cancer Foundation Board of Visitors since 1993, and Mays family members have supported MD Anderson since 1994 individually, as well as through the Mays Family Foundation and through the Clear Channel Communications Foundation.

In 1972, Lowry Mays and Red McCombs formed the San Antonio Broadcasting Co., which later became Clear Channel Communications. Clear Channel owns more than 1,200 radio stations, 40 TV stations, outdoor advertising displays and the nation’s leading live entertainment company. Operating in 65 countries, Clear Channel has about 50,000 employees.

Apache Corporation

August Lau, Apache’s senior scientist in Exploration and Production Technology, wasn’t using seismic imaging to trace fault lines or detect hydrocarbons when he stumbled across a new type of imaging – a cutting-edge technology used in the early detection of cancer. He was undergoing treatment at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center himself.

Lau learned he had cancer three years ago after tests revealed the geophysicist had early-stage lymphoma, a disease which can travel through lymph nodes in the body. It was during his treatment and subsequent stem cell transplant at MD Anderson that he learned about the imaging procedure.

“Medical imaging research is related to the seismic imaging used for oil and gas exploration,” Lau said. That similarity piqued the scientist’s curiosity and desire to learn more about the imaging – ultimately prompting Apache to donate $500,000 to MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Apache’s gift will support the Red and Charline McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer. The program promises to detect cancer in its preliminary stages with medical imaging research, which uses computer modeling and imaging algorithms, not unlike the seismic imaging Apache uses to find oil and gas.

Medical imaging, Lau explained, uses a highly advanced Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan to identify high metabolisms of cancer cells. When cancer is present, the concentration of cancer cells is higher, showing more activity than non-cancerous areas of the body. Cancer cells consume more glucose so there is more energy and activity within the affected area. That activity is what allows the PET scan to detect cancer in its earliest stages.

A year ago, in a meeting with Farris and Executive Vice President of Exploration and Production Technology Mike Bahorich, Lau first described the McCombs Institute’s research into advanced PET scan imaging. When Lau underwent a stem cell tranplant in August 2005, he experienced firsthand the advanced PET scan’s abilities. He has had two scans since the treatment (both negative), and will continue every four months for two to three years until the lymphoma is considered cured.

In December 2005, a representative from the McCombs Institute visited with Farris, Lau and Bahorich. After the officers learned more about the institute, and the corporate giving paths were cleared, the Apache donation was made.

“I’m happy that Apache is so supportive of medical imaging,” Lau said. “It has been useful in my treatment.”