John Mendelsohn, M.D., president of MD Anderson from 1996-2011, recently received the Texas State History Museum Foundation’s "History-Making Texan Award." The annual award recognizes “living Texas legends whose contributions to the state and the nation have been truly historic and exceptional in scope and nature.”
Under Mendelsohn’s leadership, MD Anderson experienced a period of tremendous growth. The cancer center’s operating and research budgets increased by greater than four-fold, and the number of faculty and employees doubled. The institution regularly topped U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Hospitals” list, and earned more competitive research grants from the National Cancer Institute than any other U.S. cancer center or university.
A few highlights from Mendelsohn’s nearly 15-year tenure as president include:
- Opening of the Lowry and Peggy Mays Clinic, Faculty Center, T. Boone Pickens Academic Tower, Proton Therapy Center and George and Cynthia Mitchell Basic Science Research Building
- Development of the Red and Charline McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer and the Duncan Family Institute for Cancer Prevention and Risk Assessment
- Expansion of degree-granting programs, including bachelor’s degrees and certificates in eight allied health disciplines and a jointly awarded Ph.D. in biomedical sciences with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
- Launch of the institution’s largest-ever fundraising campaign, Making Cancer History: The Campaign to Transform Cancer Care, which reached the $1 billion mark more than two years ahead of schedule, resulting in a new goal of $1.2 billion
- Creation of a worldwide network of more than 20 sister institutions and launch of new clinical programs bearing the MD Anderson name throughout the greater Houston area and beyond
An internationally recognized leader in cancer research, Mendelsohn remains on the MD Anderson faculty as co-director of the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy, which brings together researchers, clinicians and investigators from different disciplines to tailor treatment based on the genetic signatures of patients' particular cancers.
Mendelsohn's research focusing on how to stunt cancer cell proliferation by blocking certain cell signaling pathways resulted in the creation of a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of colon cancer in 2004 and for head and neck cancer in 2006.
Former winners of the “History-Making Texan Award” include Denton Cooley, M.D., President George W. and Laura Bush, Walter Cronkite and Michael DeBakey, M.D.