Dark day for cancer

Rick Perry blesses M.D. Anderson's new cancer science institute with a dance, but Ronald DePinho lures the star power

Rick Perry blesses M.D. Anderson's new cancer science institute with a dance, but Ronald DePinho lures the star power

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Rick Perry brought his A-Game to M.D. Anderson. Courtesy of Office of the Gov. Rick Perry
Ronald Depinho wide
Ronald DePinho  Facebook/Ronald DePinho
News_Rick Perry_M.D. Anderson
Ronald Depinho wide

In a room filled past seating capacity with dress suits and lab coats, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center president Ronald DePinho detailed the cancer fighting leaders' new Institute for Applied Cancer Science.

In recognition of the occasion, both U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Texas Gov. Rick Perry were in attendance, alongside doctors, scientists, administrators and reporters.

True to fashion, Governor Perry was effortlessly charismatic and faultlessly groomed. He greeted the subdued audience with a booming "Good morning," and gave a thumbs up from his seat of honor on stage. Perry emphatically thanked UT System board of regents chairman Gene Powell (who commended Perry's commitment to "education and curing cancer" throughout his decade in service) for omitting mention of last week's football game during his introduction.

 "I find it invigorating and even addictive — in a good way," Perry said. 

Perry remarked upon the "brightness" and "clarity" of this crisp day — saying he noticed it as his plane lifted off for Houston. The governor used the weather as a metaphor for what is to come for M.D. Anderson — and, by association, the city of Houston, the state of Texas and everyone in the world affected in some way by cancer.

Dancing and gesturing for the press cameras, Perry boasted about the positive climate that Texas offers for entrepreneurs, corporations and innovators.

"I find it invigorating and even addictive — in a good way," Perry said of that innovation, before jetting off to his next engagement. "May God bless you, and through you, may God continue to bless Texas, and by extension, the entire world."

When DePinho assumed the presidency of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in September, he brought with him dozens of top-tier scientists, including Dr. Giulio Draetta, who will serve as director of the newly-formed institute, and Dr. Lynda Chin, the new cancer institute's scientific director and DePinho's wife. During the press conference, the two doctors explained the reason for the creation of the Institute for Applied Cancer Science and outlined the pressing need for up-to-date cancer treatment medications to match the rapidly advancing understanding of cancer.

"It's important that we enable, not replace, the existing pharmaceutical infrastructure," DePinho said.

The center will initially run on existing funds (M.D. Anderson's committed $75 million over five years), grants, corporate sponsorships and philanthropic support, with the private drug sector playing an important part in buying patents and creating the medications.

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