President Dr. Ron DePinho resigns from MD Anderson: 9 things to know

Ronald DePinho, MD, submitted his resignation letter Wednesday to leave his role as president of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, noting his departure was effective "as soon as possible" after nearly 6 years at the helm of the prominent institution.

Here are nine things to know about Dr. DePinho's resignation, which he shared over a video statement.

1. William McRaven, chancellor of the University of Texas, has asked Dr. DePinho to stay on through the end of the state's legislative session. The two leaders are coordinating the precise timing of his exit.

2. In a video statement, Dr. DePinho says the decision comes after months of self-reflection and deep engagement with the chancellor and board. "It became clear to me that this great and noble institution needs a new president who will inspire greater unity and a sharp operational focus on navigating the tectonic changes in healthcare delivery and economics," he said.

3. "Dr. DePinho is a remarkable leader and person. We hope he stays in the very middle of healthcare," says Becker's Healthcare Publisher Scott Becker.

4. MD Anderson has experienced a streak of financial difficulty over the past year. Last August, the center reported a 77 percent drop in its adjusted income over a 10-month span, a change attributed to increased expenses, decreased patient revenue and the implementation of a new Epic EHR. The center recorded an operating loss exceeding $111 million for the combined months of September, October and November 2016.

5. Dr. DePinho said he holds himself accountable for MD Anderson's financial losses. "Who is accountable for the financial performance? I take full responsibility for the challenges," he said in December.

6. To counter the financial challenges, MD Anderson planned to eliminate roughly 1,000 jobs from its workforce of 20,000 through a combination of layoffs and attrition. More recently, CFO Dan Fontaine, MD, said that number could exceed 1,000 if revenue did not increase.

7. The center also put its oncology collaboration with IBM Watson on hold, as the project was evaluated to cost more than $62 million. MD Anderson leadership even mentioned the possibility of curbing research under its Moon Shots program, although administrators presented that option as a last resort.

8. In his comments Wednesday, Dr. DePinho grew personal. He said he could have done a better job administratively, a better job listening and a better job communicating.

"Forgive me for my shortcomings. I regret them, but I was, and continue, to be committed to saving lives and reduce suffering, to help MD Anderson accelerate the march towards prevention and cure, particularly for the underserved. I've done my very best.

I was personally driven by the loss of my hero, my father, to colon cancer. His suffering ignited and defined the intensity of my fight. Every life lost reminds me of my father and instills an even greater sense of urgency and, admittedly, anger. I simply hate cancer."

9. Dr. DePinho said he needs to return to his passion of combating cancer through translational science. He notes he will say goodbye as president but will not leave the fight.

"I need to focus on the cancer moonshot, I need to be a father and husband of my still young family, and at this time in our nation's history, I need to be more intensely engaged with the national cancer and health policy landscape, including funding for research in my role as co-chair for Act for NIH. I truly believe that this decision will allow me to better serve cancer patients here, at MD Anderson, and nationally," he said.

© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2019. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this content? View our policies by clicking here.

 

Top 40 Articles from the Past 6 Months