MD Anderson Celebrates 70 Years of Making Cancer History®

Minute Maid Park Event Honors Anne, John Mendelsohn in Tribute to Texas’ Diverse Culture

MD Anderson News Release 04/25/11

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will mark its 70th anniversary with an evening of celebration May 5 at Minute Maid Park. The event will salute Anne and John Mendelsohn, M.D., president of MD Anderson, with a Texas cultural tribute and an expected 2,000 guests.

Veteran news journalist Bob Schieffer, chief Washington correspondent for CBS News and Face the Nation anchor, and Sam Champion, ABC News weather editor and Good Morning America weather anchor, will lead the festivities as masters of ceremonies. Also on the program are Luci Baines Johnson; UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, M.D.; UT System Board of Regents Chair William Eugene “Gene” Powell; former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III; and his wife, Susan Baker.

Event chairs are Janet and Ernie Cockrell, Nancy Loeffler and Charline and Red McCombs. The Bakers join Barbara and George Bush as honorary chairs. Honorary co-chairs are Lynn and Peter Coneway, Edwin L. Cox, Brenda and John Duncan, Sally and Forrest Hoglund, Barbara and Randall Meyer, Madeleine and T. Boone Pickens and Jeri and Marc Shapiro.

Media opportunity
The Mendelsohns, Schieffer, Champion and other program participants will be available to the media at 5:15 p.m.  A VIP reception on the park’s Diamond Club Level begins at 5:30 p.m. General reception on the field is at 6 p.m. Dinner and entertainment begin at 7 p.m.

Entertainment includes a diverse mix of classical, country and western, Latino and gospel performers:

  • the Houston Symphony Orchestra,
  • mezzo soprano Susan Graham,
  • concert violinist Sarah Chang,
  • Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers,
  • soprano Barbara Padilla with The University of Texas Pan-American Mariachi Aztlan and Ballet Folklόrico Luz de Luna
  • the Houston Children’s Chorus and
  • a multidenominational chorale with vocalist Mary Griffin.

Three cancer survivors will share personal reflections on MD Anderson’s world-class research initiatives and patient care programs. One of them, Shelby Robin, is a former pediatric patient who is now a nurse at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, where she once received treatment.

MD Anderson is producing the event with Houston-based Ward & Ames Special Events.

The Anne and John Mendelsohn Personalized Cancer Therapy Fund
Proceeds from the evening will establish the Anne and John Mendelsohn Personalized Cancer Therapy Fund in honor of the couple’s 15 years of service to MD Anderson, the city of Houston and beyond. The event already has raised $4 million through ticket sales and gifts in honor of the Mendelsohns. Individual tickets are $750. Tables start at $5,000. For information, call 713-563-4029.

Mendelsohn, the institution’s third president, recently announced plans to return to research and relinquish his leadership position. A search for a new president is currently under way.

“Dr. and Mrs. Mendelsohn have given enormously of their time, energy, expertise and creativity to Making Cancer History®,” said Patrick B. Mulvey, vice president for development. “They’ve made an indelible mark in the lives of cancer patients and their families everywhere. In return, we’re establishing a fund in their honor to support research that will test cancer therapies to target the abnormal genes and gene products detected in each patient’s cancer. The fund will continue the pioneering research in personalized cancer therapies Dr. Mendelsohn started 30 years ago.”

Seven Decades Ago
The Texas legislature created MD Anderson in 1941 as a part of The University of Texas System. The MD Anderson Foundation matched state funds to build a cancer hospital and bought the seven-acre estate of Capt. James A. Baker, grandfather of James A. Baker, III, as temporary quarters for the fledgling cancer hospital and research institute, later providing a permanent building site in the Texas Medical Center. Today MD Anderson occupies more than 11 million square feet and provides the latest technology and facilities to support outpatient and inpatient care, research, prevention and education. With employees working in more than 50 buildings in the Houston area and in central Texas, MD Anderson is the largest freestanding cancer center in the world.