By Sarah Watson
Dallas businessman and philanthropist H. Ross Perot has donated $20 million to
MD Anderson for research to advance and design novel targeted therapies. The funds will be divided equally between two new initiatives: the Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy (IPCT) and the Center for Targeted Therapy (CTT).
Perot’s contributions to these two critical and interconnected areas will have a significant impact on the future of cancer care by accelerating efforts to analyze genetic blueprints, pinpoint molecular biomarkers, develop targeted anti-cancer drugs and test new drugs in clinical trials, says John Mendelsohn, M.D., president of MD Anderson.
“We are grateful to Ross Perot for his generous support in these extremely important areas of cancer research. With the completion of the mapping of the human genome, progress toward individualized cancer treatment has escalated, and now is a very exciting time to support the work being done in these areas,” says Mendelsohn. “These funds will help our clinicians and researchers advance the translation of science into new and improved cancer treatments. Ultimately, our goal is to make personalized cancer therapy the gold standard in oncology care.”
The IPCT encompasses all of the clinical divisions and departments that participate in MD Anderson’s highly successful multidisciplinary care centers. Its collaborative environment is central to the institution’s efforts to match patients to the most effective treatments. Discoveries fostered by the IPCT will help physicians determine the specific genetic and molecular abnormalities in each patient's cancer and, in turn, prescribe the appropriate therapy. The IPCT is led by co-director Stanley Hamilton, M.D., head of the Division of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.
The CTT, one of seven unique centers in the Red and Charline McCombs Institute for the Early Detection and Treatment of Cancer at MD Anderson, enables researchers and clinicians to coordinate all stages of the drug discovery and development process. Anchored by the institution’s Department of Experimental Therapeutics, the CTT is designed to speed the delivery of new, more effective and less toxic targeted drug therapies from the research bench to the clinic so that patients can benefit more quickly from personalized cancer medicine. The CTT is under the direction of Garth Powis, D.Phil., an internationally renowned cancer pharmacologist and a pioneer in the development of molecularly targeted cancer drugs.
Perot, a native Texan who founded Electronic Data Systems in 1962 and Perot Systems in 1988, is a longtime supporter of MD Anderson. In 2004, he established the Norman Brinker Award for Research Excellence at MD Anderson.
“I’m honored to be associated with the premier cancer center in the world and to help the outstanding physicians and scientists there take advantage of unprecedented opportunities to dramatically change the diagnosis and treatment of cancer,” says Perot of his most recent philanthropy. “MD Anderson researchers already have made great strides, but there’s much more work to be done. I’m proud to support their transformational research over the next decade and to play a small role in making personalized cancer therapy a reality. I can’t think of a better potential return on investment.”