Change in Leadership at MD Anderson

Ronald A. DePinho M.D., president of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has submitted a letter to Chancellor William H. McRaven of the University of Texas System tendering his resignation.

Chancellor McRaven has asked Dr. DePinho to stay on through the end of the Texas Legislative Session. Discussions between Dr. DePinho and Chancellor McRaven are ongoing to coordinate the details and timing of his transition.

Dr. DePinho was appointed on September 1, 2011 as the fourth full-time president of the institution.

A video from Dr. DePinho to the MD Anderson community is available here, and a full transcript is below.


Hello, I’m Ron DePinho, president of MD Anderson

I believe it is time for a change in leadership at MD Anderson.

As a result of months of self-reflection and deep engagement with the Chancellor and our Board of Visitors, it became clear to me that this great and noble institution needs a new president who will inspire greater unity and a sharp operational focus on navigating the tectonic changes in healthcare delivery and economics.

I have informed the Chancellor of the University of Texas System and the Board of Regents of my resignation, effective as soon as possible, to allow this, the world's premier cancer institution, to forge ahead on its mission of compassionate care for patients and the discovery of scientific advances that, I believe, lie at the heart of ultimately defeating cancer.

As with all my decisions in my professional journey, I am placing the interests of patients and our ability to impact the cancer problem first. My decision will give the institution new leadership and give me a chance, in a different way, to put my passion for finding cures to this horrible disease.

I am committed to a smooth transition. I will do anything the institution asks of me.

Being president of MD Anderson is an honor I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Nearly six years ago, I was granted the honor of being your president and was challenged by the Board of Regents to take MD Anderson to new academic heights, drive decisive research, expand our national and global reach, foster an innovation culture, and promote long-term sustainability.

It was a tough, tough job, and I pushed all of you and the institution very hard.

Together, we achieved much:

We recruited and nurtured dozens of star faculty.

We greatly enhanced our research competiveness as reflected in securing grants, high impact publications and top awards and honors including National Academies, Lasker and more.

We elevated the reputation of our graduate school program and training programs.

We expanded our world leading clinical trials engine.

We transformed our translational research infrastructure.

We extended our global reach to a network of premier institutions that touches nearly one-third of the human population.

With urgency, courage and compassion, we launched the MD Anderson Cancer Moon Shots Program, which has produced practice-changing advances and catalyzed a national movement.

In an era of significant and rapid financial change, we are recovering well from short-term challenges and, longer term, have diversified our revenue streams through philanthropy, strategic ventures and innovation. That should allow us to be strongly positioned to support our mission to patients for generations to come.

The men and women of MD Anderson did this and much more. Our supporters and collaborators did this and much more.

But there was a cost for that change, and I have added to that cost.

I could have done a better job administratively, a better job listening, a better job communicating.

Forgive me for my short comings. I regret them, but I was, and continue, to be committed to saving lives and reduce suffering, to help MD Anderson accelerate the march towards prevention and cure, particularly for the underserved. I've done my very best.

I was personally driven by the loss of my hero, my father, to colon cancer. His suffering ignited and defined the intensity of my fight.

Every life lost reminds me of my father and instills an even greater sense of urgency and, admittedly, anger. I simply hate cancer.

For myself, I need to return to my passion of conducting translational science and helping others doing great science – to drive ideas to clinical impact that matter for patients. I need to focus on the cancer moonshot, I need to be a father and husband of my still young family, and at this time in our nation’s history, I need to be more intensely engaged with the national cancer and health policy landscape, including funding for research in my role as co-chair for Act for NIH. I truly believe that this decision will allow me to better serve cancer patients here, at MD Anderson, and nationally.        

I have full confidence in the leadership team that we have assembled. It is the strongest in the nation as reflected by our historic progress of the last five-plus years, which will serve as a foundation for the next 25.

So, I say good bye as your president, but I am not leaving the fight. My respect for the institution and for everything you do has no bounds.

Let’s look to the future. Many patients and families are counting on us.

Thank you.