As a retired researcher and educator, Allen T. Ansevin, Ph.D., understands the importance of giving back. That desire to make a difference led him to join the MD Anderson faculty in 1964. More recently, when he was treated for basal cell carcinoma at MD Anderson in 2008 and 2013, he benefited from research into how cancer grows and spreads.
Motivated to support future research, Ansevin made an estate gift to the graduate school where he found fulfillment in training the next generation of scientists.
Ansevin opted to establish a charitable gift annuity by contributing appreciated stock. With the stock structured as a lifetime gift, it provides him with income and ultimately will support basic research education at the MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
Houston was ripe with possibility when Ansevin and his wife, Krystyna D. Ansevin, Ph.D., arrived from New York. At MD Anderson, in the former physics department, he applied knowledge of equilibrium analytical ultracentrifugation to determine the molecular weights of proteins extracted by his colleague, biochemist Lubomir Hnilica, Ph.D. Further collaboration with Hnilica involved the characterization of DNA and nucleoproteins, the molecules that form cells’ genetic code.
The collaborative environment of MD Anderson and the emerging Texas Medical Center appealed to Ansevin. So did the close proximity of Rice University, where Krystyna Ansevin worked as a biology professor.
“I was pleased that I could be associated with a first-class cancer hospital and with a faculty devoted to rigorous research,” Ansevin says. “The work I did was basic biophysics and molecular biology, rather than direct cancer research. It was concerned with organization of the basic genome and how it was expressed. Our hope was that applications that come from basic research could be extended to cancer research.”
At the MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School, Ansevin enjoyed teaching and mentoring emerging researchers. “I was very happy that I could work in the graduate school,” he says. “It was a broadening experience. I think both faculty and students benefited from the collegial atmosphere.”
After retiring as a professor in 1986, Ansevin, who now lives in New Hampshire, continued his research by exploring the unusual structure of Z-DNA (known as left-handed DNA because of the direction its helix twists), which could have relevance to cancer expression. Krystyna Ansevin died in 2013.
Charitable gift annuities
Ansevin had supported the MD Anderson Annual Fund for many years when he began to consider making an estate gift. His charitable gift annuity was structured using appreciated stock to provide a modest but consistent income stream for life. “I considered it a win-win,” he says. “I get some advantage from it at the same time MD Anderson gets advantage from the gift.”
Stocks and mutual funds can be prudent choices for funding life income gift plans. Through his gift, Ansevin became a member of the MD Anderson Legacy Society, a special circle of forward-thinking individuals who choose to invest in the future with a planned gift benefiting the institution.
Funding the future
Ansevin finds inspiration in knowing that his contribution to the MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School will spark learning for generations to come.
“I think it is very important to have academic research alongside clinical research,” he says. “Major advances come from academic research, asking questions about how things work. There was a positive atmosphere at MD Anderson that facilitated that type of thinking.”