Lyda Hill commits $50 million to Moon Shots Program

Cancer Prevention Center to be named in honor of Dallas philanthropist

MD Anderson News Release 05/21/13

Lyda Hill, of Dallas, has pledged $50 million to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Moon Shots Program, an unprecedented, comprehensive assault on cancer announced in September 2012. Hill’s 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.

The Moon Shots Program comprises six teams of MD Anderson researchers and clinicians initially  focusing on these eight cancers:

  • acute myeloid leukemia (AML)/myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS),
  • chronic lymphocytic leukemia,
  • melanoma,
  • lung cancer,
  • prostate cancer, and
  • triple-negative breast and high-grade serous ovarian cancers.

The ultimate goal is to apply knowledge gained from this process to all cancers. Moon shot efforts will help support all other cancer research at MD Anderson, particularly with improved resources and infrastructure.

“I’m excited about the Moon Shots Program,” said 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 support high-priority flagship 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.

Her gift also will support moon shot platforms, which provide infrastructure, systems and strategy in a variety of areas, such as cancer prevention and control, data analytics and research genomics.

“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,” said Ronald DePinho, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “Its broad application across the cancer care continuum of prevention, detection, treatment and survivorship will play a significant role in the success of the entire Moon Shots Program, especially in the areas of early detection, risk assessment and the development of more effective treatments for multiple cancer types.”

A senior member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors, Hill is a longtime proponent of scientific research and biomedical advancement. The Dallas-based businesswoman, philanthropist, volunteer and environmentalist is 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, Hill 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 the 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; and Governor’s Award, Outstanding Volunteer in Texas, 1988.

Estimated to cost $3 billion in the first 10 years, the Moon Shots Program will receive funding from private philanthropy, institutional earnings, competitive research grants and commercialization of new discoveries.