In 2007, I was happily working as a newly minted director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville and continuing the tradition that Dr. Hal Moses had established in building a world-class cancer center.

However, one day, I received a phone call from Houston, and it was from John Mendelsohn’s office. I knew who he was based on his accomplishments, but didn’t really know him in person.

John said that he was in the process of building an effort to fight cancer on all levels at MD Anderson. To native Texans, such as myself, MD Anderson is the Mecca for loved ones and relatives facing a diagnosis of cancer. (In fact, my great aunt, who lived in our remote rural community, was diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer—a virtual death sentence at the time—but was able to get an appointment at MD Anderson, where the doctors made a huge impact on her disease.)