Chapter 04: The Origin of the Texas Medical Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center


Chapter 04: The Origin of the Texas Medical Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center



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The interview begins with Thomas Dunaway Anderson’s recollections of his uncle, Monroe Dunaway Anderson, the founder of the M.D. Anderson foundation and namesake of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The interview continues with a description of the establishment and purpose of the M.D. Anderson Foundation and the growth and development of several recipients of M.D. Anderson’s philanthropy, including the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Texas Medical Center. Thomas Anderson’s memories and interactions regarding Dr. Randolph Lee Clark, the first full-time president of what is known today as the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, are recounted as well. A discussion concerning Thomas Anderson’s family contributions associated with the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Texas Medical Center ends the interview.



Publication Date



Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center - MD Anderson Past; MD Anderson History; MD Anderson Snapshot; Building/Transforming the Institution; Institutional Processes; Portraits


Thomas Dunaway Anderson :

Let me come at this thing from two or three different angles. One is the site for a medical center. This part is hearsay, and way out of date, but there was a prominent Houston business man and philanthropist named Will Hogg, the older brother of Ms. Imma Hog, who sensed the need for a medical center in Houston, and I think he went and bought most of the land where the Medical Center now is situated, and then turned around and invited the Medical Branch of the University of Texas in Galveston to come here and enjoy this site. That was his idea of starting the Medical Center, was to get the medical school from Galveston up here. But what he perhaps had not found out was that the medical school is forever tied to Galveston because it is the primary beneficiary of some very substantial funds generated and disbursed by the Sealy and Smith Foundation of Galveston, established by one of Galveston's leading philanthropists many years ago and ministered by his son and daughter for their lives, and is still going strong. And it pours an immense amount of money into the medical school so long as it stays in Galveston. So, his approach to move the medical school from Galveston to Houston was unsuccessful. So, there was that land, and I think he deeded it to the City of Houston. You will have to get somebody else to help you with this. Maybe even an abstract company. It was the property of the City of Houston when the M. D. Anderson Foundation was looking for the site for a medical school. Some people thought it was a part of Hermann Park because it lay right adjacent. Ms. Imma Hogg thought so because she told me so. But the solution was to have a referendum vote in Houston during World War II that gave the city permission to sell that 134 acres, I think it was, to the Texas Medical Center. It had been formed, I suppose, early in the war. In terms of timing, M. D. Anderson died in 1939. His estate was just held up by a state tax problem until 1941, at which point, I went off into the service. So, there had not been any organization called The Texas Medical Center, until about 1942. All right. There was a site for a medical center. When I used to practice law in the courthouse, I became acquainted with a Dr. E.W. Bertner . . . the street is paved for him now . . . a very prominent Houston physician, and in talking to him, he let me know, then and on other occasions, that what Houston needed was a medical center where doctors from all over the city could be drawn under one roof, so to speak, not literally but figuratively, and be in closer proximity to each other, and that that would improve the quality of the practice and give the doctors more time to devote themselves to their professional work, instead of driving hither and yon to call on patients or go to hospitals, or whatever. It really, I think, was more his idea and concept of a medical center that appealed to the M. D. Anderson Foundation. Again, this is in those papers. When it became known that the M. D. Anderson Foundation had $20,000,000, and had not decided what to do with it, the Harris County Medical Society, composed of really the elite doctors of Houston, and perhaps persuaded to do this by Dr. Bertner himself, elected him to go and talk to the trustees and try to sell them on the concept of a medical center. Well, he was persuasive. So, I really give him as much credit as I do M. D. Anderson for the existence of that great institution today. Dr. Bertner had the idea, the M. D. Anderson trustees had the money. The stars simply lined up about the time World War II ended, and you see the result out there now.

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Chapter 04: The Origin of the Texas Medical Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center