A Unique Basic Research Campus of the MD Anderson Cancer Center
The Texas Legislature established the Science Park in 1971 as an educational and research facility for the cooperative study of the interaction between humans and the environment.
After the Legislature approved a bill that activated the Science Park and appropriated funding for its initial planning, MD Anderson acquired 717 acres of land near Smithville, Texas from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to develop the site. In 1977, construction of the original buildings (a conference center, two laboratory facilities and a guest residence) was completed, and the campus was formally dedicated as a research center for the study of cancer cause and prevention.
From the onset, the multidisciplinary teams assembled at Science Park brought unique focus to complex problems in cancer research, and the research programs grew rapidly. Today, our interdisciplinary, basic science research aims to define the mechanisms that control normal cell proliferation, differentiation, survival and genome maintenance to identify the processes that drive cancer.
During the 1980s, support buildings were added to aid research. These included an animal support facility, a physical plant and warehousing facility. A third laboratory building, the Ralph and Lillian Meadows Molecular Biology Facility, was built in 1992.
The Cockrell Foundation presented a $5 million donation in 1998 to create the Virginia Harris Cockrell Cancer Research Center at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Science Park. In 1999, the Regents approved a formal graduate degree program in Environmental and Molecular Carcinogenesis, later becoming Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis, and finally Genetics and Epigenetics.
By 2000, Science Park had achieved a substantial foundation of support, a stable administration and a significant investment in faculty and research support. Construction of a state-of-the-art, 26,000 square foot laboratory building (Lab 4) was completed in 2009. In 2014, the department grew to encompass three laboratories in Houston. The campus and department continue to grow in size, with approximately 250 people.