Similar in name, MD Anderson and the M.D. Anderson Foundation have nothing yet everything to do with each other.
"There's no direct connection between the foundation and the cancer center," says Charles Hall, a senior tax practitioner at Norton Rose Fulbright and president of the M.D. Anderson Foundation. "We started the Texas Medical Center and were instrumental in getting the cancer center here."
Monroe Dunaway Anderson created the foundation in 1936 with $300,000. After his death, it received an additional $19 million.
"(The trustees) read that the Legislature was looking to appropriate $500,000 for a cancer center," says Hall. "They said, 'If you put it in Houston and name it MD Anderson, we'll match the $500,000.' "
The M.D. Anderson Foundation recently gave $250,000 to another burgeoning initiative, the Neurodegeneration Consortium (NDC).
"The NDC is a collaboration among MD Anderson, Baylor College of Medicine, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Whitehead Institute," explains Jim Ray, Ph.D., the NDC's head of research. "We're looking for ways to prevent brain disease, like Alzheimer's, because there's no cure. By combining the expertise at MD Anderson with leaders in neurology at MIT, the Whitehead Institute and Baylor, we're hoping to find some treatments."
Hall's family has been affected by both cancer and Alzheimer's, so supporting the NDC seemed a natural fit.
"What we're always looking to provide is seed money to help spark something small that can grow into something bigger," says Hall.
The foundation's support is intended to do just that for the NDC.
"The gift has allowed us to bring together people with different backgrounds and different research interests," says Ray. "Now, they're working together with a single purpose. Thanks to the M.D. Anderson Foundation, we'll be able to test our first possible drug this year."