Chapter 05: The Early Growth of MD Anderson Cancer Center


Chapter 05: The Early Growth of 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



The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


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 :

The Cancer Center had a modest existence during the war, and Dr. Bertner was its first president, and did business, as perhaps you know by now, on the old Captain Baker estate which is almost downtown now. They acquired some military style buildings from a military camp that was between here and the town of Alvin, Texas. It is called Camp Wallace. And several of those buildings were moved up here, sold at a modest cost, to what we now call the Cancer Center, and they had a place in there where they could take outpatients, and maybe one or two inpatients. They couldn't do any surgery for quite a while, but it did have, as I say, a modest existence during the war and greatly expanded immediately after the war, but it didn't get its new building until 1954 or 1955, at which point, a couple of dozen patients were moved over there and then the doors were really open for more business.

Louis Marchiafava, PhD :

And that was the first M. D. Anderson cancer building?

Thomas Dunaway Anderson :

Well, the first ones, I guess, were in those temporary buildings.

Thomas Dunaway Anderson :

The original pink marble building is what I refer to, yes, and it had patient rooms, of course, surgical suites, administrative and executive offices. And was a well self-contained unit at the time it was finished. And I thought that is the way it would be for the next 50 years. Now, it is so surrounded by additions that you can't see it anymore!

Louis Marchiafava, PhD :

I think the architects, McKee and Kamrath, were the first to . . .

Thomas Dunaway Anderson :

They were. They designed that building, and I think they were very knowledgeable about it. It was very functional and, as I say, thanks to Lee Clark, it was colorful because he picked out that pink marble. He had seen some buildings in Georgia made of that pink marble. So, he found the same quarry and they provided the same material, which didn't cost greatly more, as I understand it, than any other kind of sheathing, masonry sheathing, would at cost.

Louis Marchiafava, PhD :

I understand there were some innovative refinements made in the building itself that were relatively unknown before, or not used before, the way it was laid out.

Thomas Dunaway Anderson :

I am not familiar with that. Of course, the basic structure did not really change appreciably, and is still there. Some of the rooms are now devoted to different purposes. And some of the patient rooms indeed were redesigned, perhaps before it was converted almost entirely to administrative purposes. I don't think they keep patients in there anymore. I am not sure. But the changes came about through the additions that went off in every direction. And, of course, they were always state-of-the art treatment and diagnostic facilities.

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Chapter 05: The Early Growth of MD Anderson Cancer Center