Ronald DePinho, M.D., who in 2011 became the fourth full-time president of MD Anderson, stepped down from that role on March 8. He’ll continue his work to end cancer by focusing his attention full time on translational research as a professor of Cancer Biology – a dual appointment he held throughout his presidency. During his tenure, DePinho recruited world-class researchers; fast-tracked the development of novel, more effective therapeutics for patients; and forged new collaborations with other institutions and hospitals. He also mobilized faculty and staff to effect significant change in the ways teams work, research is enabled, and ideas are converted to new treatments and digital solutions. Under his leadership, MD Anderson also showed how knowledge and expertise can inspire health policies that seek to reduce cancer risk for young people.
DePinho’s signature achievement was the 2012 launch of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program™, bolstered by new philanthropy, grants and alliance revenues approaching $1 billion dollars. The comprehensive assault on cancer has expanded to 13 areas of focus, with 10 enabling platforms. The initiative has inspired the White House Cancer Moonshot Initiative (renamed the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot under the 21st Century Cures Act) led by former Vice President Joe Biden.
Additional highlights of DePinho’s administration include:
- Top ranking in cancer care in U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Hospitals” survey
- Close working relationships with key world leaders to advance public health
- Enhancing research competitiveness, including five-fold increase in national academy members and doubling the annual funding received from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT)
- Dramatic expansion of MD Anderson’s knowledge dissemination across the nation and in many countries to elevate the quality of care and science
- Transformation of strategic industry ventures to secure significant revenue and increase clinical trials options for patients
- More than $1.2 billion in private philanthropy over five years, including a record $294 million in fiscal year 2016
DePinho is internationally known for a number of discoveries, most notably for shedding light on the link between aging and cancer. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Medicine. DePinho will continue conducting translational research to make a meaningful impact in the clinic and advocating for cancer research funding and effective health policy as vice chair of ACT for NIH: Advancing Cures Today, a nonpartisan effort to increase support for biomedical research and restore funding to the National Institutes of Health. In addition, he will coordinate a global multi-sector effort to advance cancer care, particularly for the impoverished.
“A true visionary who kept an eye on the horizon and worked hard to shape a better future beyond it, Dr. DePinho remains a tireless advocate for patients and for MD Anderson,” says Marshall Hicks, M.D., the institution's ad interim president. “As president, he helped us redefine what was possible. Dr. DePinho’s positive impact on our institution and our nation will be felt for years to come.”