The MD Anderson Cancer Hospital That R. Lee Clark Built

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The MD Anderson Hospital for Cancer Research (as it was named in 1946) incorporated pioneering changes that set new standards in hospital design, construction, and function. It is remarkable that surgeon R. Lee Clark, the new Director of the MD Anderson Hospital, and with no previous experience in hospital construction, personally led the design and supervision of a world class medical care and research facility. This is the untold story of his leadership and his diligence visiting hospitals and cancer facilities in America and Europe, his clever hiring, his supervision of the architectural firms (through 23 versions of architectural plans), his adaptability to the market when building costs were skyrocketing, and his extraordinary ability in raising enormous funds from private, state, and federal sources. He was such a creative genius in his inaugural building project that the new MD Anderson “cancer station” was described by national magazines as totally unique in its design that set new standards in cancer care delivery. With his typical determination, enthusiasm, and creative approach to problem-solving, Clark embarked on this building project in 1946 with a budget of $1,750,000, expecting to complete this project in 2 to 3 years. In fact, the entire project took 8 years and cost five times more than the original estimate, at almost $9,000,000! The process took 2 years for Dr. Clark to visit more than 30 cancer facilities and many academic hospitals in America and in Europe, 2 years of architectural planning, and 4 years of construction. When MD Anderson opened its doors in 1954, it was described by national magazines as “one of the most modern hospitals in the nation.”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8087-8108
Number of pages22
JournalAnnals of surgical oncology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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