The $50 million is seed money. Under the agreement, MD Anderson has to grow that donation to $500 million before the money can distributed as the institution sees fit. That goal has to be reached in 25 years. Among the dignitaries in attendance to thank Boone Pickens, Houston Mayor Bill White who described Pickens as a visionary.
"An astute investor yes, I tell you what, it doesn't take him 20 years to turn $50 million into $500 million"
MD Anderson is not the only reciepient. Pickens also donated another $50 million to UT Southwestern Medical Center with the same conditions. Last year Pickens established the T. Boone Pickens Foundation.
"I did it because I want to increase my focus on investments outside the traditional business world and into the philanthropic marketplace. My objective is to invest in programs, initiatives and people who can have a great impact in America. Of course that why I picked these two institutions. One area I have invested in is health and medical research, education and treatment services."
Pickens has donated to both instituations in the past and has served on the UT MD Anderson's Board of Visitors from 1977 to 1986.
MD Anderson President Doctor John Mendelsohn knows he and his successors have the task of growing the money first, but he does have hopes of what the money will be used for when it becomes available. Mendelsohn predicts medicine will have a smarter approach to assessing the risks of cancer and picking the right therapies.
"And what I hope is that our treatment clinics will not be any bigger, but our prevention clinics will be huge and our risk assesment clinics will be huge."
Mendelsohn sees a day when cancer will be treated more like how infectious diseases are treated today.
"Whereas our grandparents feared most pneumonia and tuberculosis, today we fear cancer and heart disease. I hope that cancer will be treated and prevented in the same way we do with infections today. And I hope returning to Alzheimer's and other diseases for the next round of philanthropy in this great state."
MD Anderson also announced that the new 21 story signature academic building scheduled to open in spring 2008 will be named the T-Boon Pickens Academic Tower. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.