Translational Research

Past, Present, Future

Dr. Diego R. Martin with MRI physicist Shu Zhang

Medical imaging has graduated from microscopes to the most advanced MRIs and PET/CT SCANS
M.D. ANDERSON foundation’s longtime support helps shape the image of houston methodist
When Houston Methodist leaders were considering a downtown expansion in the 1940s, the M.D. Anderson Foundation board strongly encouraged them to build instead on Fannin Street. At the time, the burgeoning Texas Medical Center that the foundation had helped establish was still in its nascent phase.
“We had come together to create a wonderful new medical complex, and we wanted excellent hospitals to plant their flags there,” says James W. “Jim” Crownover, M.D. Anderson Foundation president. “The foundation offered financial support toward the expansion to sweeten the deal.”
With that positive boost from the M.D. Anderson Foundation, Houston Methodist became one of the first hospitals in the Texas Medical Center. Its location at 6565 Fannin has served as the central hub of the independent academic medical center since construction ended in 1951. The foundation contributed to the hospital again in 1961 to support facility expansion.
FOUNDATION NAMESAKE Monroe Dunaway Anderson
For decades, Houston Methodist and the M.D. Anderson Foundation have teamed up to build a legacy of medical innovation. “The foundation supports excellence, and Houston Methodist consistently demonstrates that,” says Crownover. “It’s a special place with strong values, yet it remains humble about its greatness.”
Today, one of the top priorities for the foundation is attracting the best medical minds to Houston, Crownover says. This ensures extraordinary health care for the region and helps attract new businesses whose leaders appreciate the enhanced quality of life. “We understand the value that state-of-the-art facilities bring, but we have begun to more actively support intellectual leadership, research, and scientific endeavors as well,” Crownover explains.
That focus led the foundation to make a philanthropic commitment to establish the M.D. Anderson Foundation Distinguished Chair in Molecular Imaging at Houston Methodist.
Dr. Diego R. Martin, chair of the Department of Radiology, currently holds that position. The M.D. Anderson Foundation chair was instrumental in supporting his recruitment. In collaboration with Dr. Martin, a recent additional gift has been directed to create another M.D. Anderson distinguished chair to support recruitment of a brilliant scientist to work closely with Dr. Martin in molecular imaging and to take on the role as vice chair of research for the department.
“We believe in recruiting the best talent,” says Crownover. “And we know that imaging is an area of strength for Houston Methodist.”
Dr. Martin’s pioneering work in molecular imaging — a growing discipline in medicine that allows doctors to visualize, characterize and quantify biologic processes occurring at the cellular and subcellular levels — will help better inform diagnostics and treatment plans. Although a technical field of medicine, imaging can lead to ways for physicians to one day treat conditions like cancer. That aspect appealed to the M.D. Anderson Foundation board. “As a small foundation, we prefer to concentrate our support in fields with promising advancements,” says Crownover.
Crownover notes that the M.D. Anderson Foundation has a strong commitment to medicine and health. “It’s about a third of our giving every year,” he elaborates. “We want to create a great city for the people who labor here now and for the ones yet to come our way. We want to make Houston attractive for people and for companies. Investing in health care does that.”