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Q&A with Ronald A. DePinho

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | October 14, 2014
Ronald A. DePinho
From the September 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Dr. Ronald A. DePinho, president of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, recently spoke with DOTmed HealthCare Business News about what distinguishes MD Anderson in the cancer sector.

Before delving into the questions, DePinho raised a fundamental issue regarding the state of cancer today.

“Cancer has a major gap — knowledge. The complete knowledge to prevent it, the knowledge to detect it and the knowledge as to what drives it. With greater knowledge that comes from amassing data, we can see patterns and develop and apply targeted technologies that are precisely directed to tumor sites,” DePinho says.

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HCBN: MD Anderson has continually been recognized as one of the top cancer centers in the nation. What makes that possible?

RD:
Our excellence rests on the people we have here — from our nurses and physicians to our staff and educators. It’s an energized group, focused on our mission of ending cancer in Texas, our nation and the world. One of the things that has led to our being the premier cancer treatment facility is our multi-tiered approach. Patients get a team of physicians. So for breast cancer, a patient sees an oncologist, a reconstructive surgeon and the list goes on.

Once that team comes up with a regimen, a specialized multidisciplinary team reviews each patient treatment plan. This team could consist of more than 100 professionals who bring their knowledge to bear on patients – including nutritionists, physical therapists, survivorship specialists and more. They challenge, they offer insights – all geared to helping the patient through the cancer journey.

Another aspect that makes MD Anderson special is that we’re outward looking. We’re not simply serving the Houston population —70 percent of our patients are from outside the Houston area.

And since we know not everyone is able to travel to MD Anderson, we’re sharing our knowledge with the world. We have a national network of partners and affiliates, including sites in Madrid, Spain, Istanbul and Turkey. We also have 29 sister institutions in countries around the globe with whom we partner with on research. This allows us to “export” our protocols and the knowledge we glean daily from our clinical trials and patient care – all part of our mission.

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