Making Cancer History Voices Collection
John Mendelsohn, M.D. Oral History Interview 1, January 3, 2005
John Mendelsohn, M.D. is the third person who has served as president of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Under his leadership and direction, the institution has emerged as the nation’s premier cancer center. It has more than doubled in size and has been named the top cancer hospital in the nation seven out of the past nine years in U.S. News and World Report's "America's Best Hospitals" survey, including 2010.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio on August 31, 1936, Mendelsohn earned both bachelor’s and medical degrees from Harvard University and spent a year in Scotland at the University of Glasgow as a Fulbright Scholar in biochemistry. Following his residency training in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, he completed a research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health and completed a fellowship in hematology-oncology at Washington University Medical School.
In 1970, he joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego, becoming founding director of the National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center there. In 1985, Mendelsohn moved to New York where he chaired the Department of Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for 11 years. In addition he held the Winthrop Rockefeller Chair in Medical Oncology, served as co-head of the Program in Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and served as professor and vice chairman of medicine at Cornell University Medical College. Mendelsohn accepted the appointment of president at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1996.
Dr. Mendelsohn has received multiple honors and awards for his contributions and advancements in cancer research and patient care. Past honors include the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (2002), the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal (2005), the Dan David Prize in Cancer Therapy (2006), and the Dorothy P. Landon-AACR Prize for Translational Research (2008). He has been on numerous editorial boards as well as serving for ten years as the founding editor-in-chief of Clinical Cancer Research. Mendelsohn has also authored more than 250 scientific papers and articles for journals and books.
After guiding and directing MD Anderson during many years of remarkable growth and expansion, Dr. Mendelsohn announced on December 6, 2010 his plans to relinquish his position as president until a new successor is appointed. He will continue to have an active role in carrying out the institution’s mission by remaining on the faculty as co-director of the new Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy.
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Interview with Dr. John Mendelsohn conducted by James S. Olson and Lesley W. Brunet
John Mendelsohn, M.D. Oral History Interview 1, January 03, 2005, Research Medical Library, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Oral history was edited by Michele Wilson, HRC Intern, Spring 2011.