The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is named for Monroe Dunaway Anderson who, with his brother-in-law Will Clayton, operated what came to be the biggest cotton company in the world by the earliest years of the Twentieth Century. When he died in 1939, his MD Anderson Foundation received $19 million from his estate. In 1941 when the Texas Legislature set aside $500,000 for a cancer hospital and research center, the Anderson Foundation agreed to match funds if the institution were located in Houston, in the new Texas Medical Center, which was also an Anderson Fund project, and if it were named for their benefactor.
The M.D. Anderson Hospital for Cancer Research at the University of Texas opened in 1944 and operated out of surplus World War II army barracks; the converted mansion The Oaks, of the James A. Baker estate near Rice University; and 46 beds leased from a local hospital (which hospital?) before moving into the original building of its current location in 1954. TMC co-founder R. Lee Clark served as the first full-time director. The world’s first cobalt-60 radiotherapy unit, designed by UTMDA’s Dr. Gilbert H. Fletcher and Dr. Leonard Grimmett, began treating patients in the underground (for safety) clinic on February 22, 1954. The rest of the patients were transferred to the new building three weeks later and the hospital was formally dedicated on October 23. The name was changed to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute in 1955. The hospital and its capabilities expanded rapidly over the next decades; it installed the first high-voltage Sagittaire linear accelerator for radiation therapy in 1970 and began the US’s first interferon trials in 1978. The name was changed to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1988.