Can We Talk?

Can We Talk?


Leonard Zwelling

         For a bunch of people who pride themselves in honesty and
the use of data to make valid arguments, the faculty of MD Anderson, the staff
of the Houston Chronicle, the UT System and most of Houston are acting like the
solution to the MD Anderson problem is too tough for them to solve. Nothing
could be further from the truth.

         Let’s review what MD Anderson is and what it is not:


1. One of the foremost places for cancer care in the

2. An institution with brilliant surgeons.

3. An institution able to deliver virtually any form of
radiotherapy needed to appropriately treat cancer (and even kinds that are

4. An institution able to deliver virtually any type of
systemic cancer therapy whether chemo-, immuno- or any other-mo safely and with
the highest likelihood of yielding a successful outcome, defined as altering
the cancer’s natural history and the patient’s quality and quantity of life.

5. An institution with a first-rate faculty of basic
science very interested in researching ways to better treat, detect and prevent
actual human cancer.

6. An institution with a highly bloated infrastructure of
administration and finance that does not service the needs of the faculty.

7. An institution with really poor leadership at the
moment, but capable of true greatness in the near future.


1. A drug company

2. A patient care assembly line

3. A valuable contributor to the cost effective treatment
of routine cancer because its cost structure is so high

4. A true university with tenure

5. A medical school

6. A stand alone graduate school

7. Anything like any other institution in the Texas
Medical Center as it is a single disease entity care giver with the backing of
the UT System

if we can agree on those things, let’s decide how to maximize what MD Anderson
is  and forget about what it is not.


1. Focus on patient care

2. Next worry about clinical and translational research

3. Not try to compete with Harvard or Baylor in basic

4. Find some leadership who gets all of this and doesn’t
view the institution as an extension of their egos.

5. Minimize the notion of commercialization as a major
effort of the institution. It is a worthy by-product but not part of the
overall strategy nor is it expected to generate tons of revenue.

6. Tell the rest of the world what MD Anderson is by
getting rid of that silly logo of Making Cancer
History because it makes MD Anderson sound like it is ignorant of what cancer
biology is. The institution’s motto should return to Fighting Cancer, Now THAT’S
a Job!

is that really all that hard?

1 thought on “Can We Talk?”

  1. The professionals that are salivating … as he says … I don't think np's desire such patients as much as they are perhaps better equipped to care for these patients! I get excited when I get consults on patients that the doctors are asking me to manage because they simply have exhausted their tool box … This is difficult to control symptoms … and difficult families and psychosocial issues … as well as undecided families as far as their goals of care. So … I suppose I salivate at the chance to say — hey this recommendation is what you need!

    I should also say that I like being a consultant. I do not wish to take over the hospitalist or pcp role.
    ALOKA UST-9124

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *