Dr. Ronald A. DePinho serves as past president and professor of cancer biology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. As its fourth president (2011–2017), MD Anderson developed the world’s most impactful cancer network with partnerships, now reaching one–third of the human population. Building on MD Anderson’s premier status in cancer care, he solidified the institution’s position as a leading research powerhouse including the world’s largest cancer clinical trials engine responsible for leading the trials for one in three new cancer medicines. In 2011, Dr. DePinho conceived and launched the Cancer Moon Shots Program, a goal–oriented comprehensive effort designed to accelerate declines in cancer incidence and mortality in the nation and world. This initiative, involving nearly 2,000 faculty and staff, already has yielded practice–changing advances in a number of cancers. In a new role, he is now developing a global cancer effort integrating the collective capabilities of government, industry, philanthropy, academia and health care delivery systems.
Dr. DePinho studied biology at Fordham University, where he graduated class salutatorian and received his M.D. degree with distinction from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He performed his residency and postdoctoral training at Columbia–Presbyterian Medical Center. Dr. DePinho’s independent career began at Einstein as the Feinberg Senior Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research and an ACS Research Professor. He then joined the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School where he was the founding director of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science and a professor of medicine and genetics at Harvard. An author of more than 400 peer–reviewed articles, books and chapters, he has made fundamental contributions to cancer, aging and degenerative disorders leading to clinical advances. His most celebrated discoveries include elucidation of a core molecular pathway for aging, determination of the basis for the intimate link between advancing age and increased cancer incidence and demonstration that aging can be reversed.
Dr. DePinho has served on public and private boards including the U.S. National Institutes of Health Human Cancer Genome Atlas Project external advisory board. He founded biotechnology companies and served as an advisor for biotech and large biopharma companies in oncology. His companies have created new drugs and diagnostics for the benefit of cancer patients. He is now focused on a global initiative to eliminate cancer by collectively harnessing government, industry, academia and philanthropists. He is a champion of childhood health and helped galvanize efforts to enable new legislations including banning tanning bed access for minors, promoting HPV vaccination to prevent cancer and raising the age of tobacco purchase to 21.
He was named one of the 100 most influential health care leaders, according to Modern Healthcare and his many honors include the Melini Award for Biomedical Excellence, ASCI Korsmeyer Award, Biomedicum Helsinki Medal, Albert Szent–Györgyi Prize, AACR Clowes Award, American–Italian Foundation Prize, among others. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and of the National Academy Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association of the Advancement of Science and American Association of Cancer Research. He was recognized by Portugal’s president with the highest commendation, the 2015 Order of Saint James of the Sword and awarded honorary degrees, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and Brien McMahon Memorial Award for Distinguished Public Service to an outstanding public figure whose life’s work and distinguished service to others reflect the noble ideals of Fordham University.