Timeline of Achievement

In 1988, a $41 million gift from Dallas businessman Harold Simmons and his wife, Annette, provided seminal funds to transform cancer research and care at UT Southwestern. In 1991, the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center was established.

Drs. John Minna and Adi Gazdar
Drs. John Minna (left) and Adi Gazdar

Pioneering work by Drs. John Minna and Adi Gazdar opened the door in 1996 for the Cancer Center, with M.D. Anderson, to receive its flagship multi-investigator grant—a highly competitive Specialized Program of Research Excellence award in lung cancer, which continues today.

In 2000, the 27,000-square-foot-plus Simmons Cancer Center Clinics were established in the Seay Biomedical Building, providing a central location for oncology services and related care.

James K.V. Willson, M.D., was named Director in 2004. He launched a five-year plan to develop a “matrix” cancer center, building bridges among disciplines to ensure translation of cancer discoveries across the spectrum of research and care.

Meanwhile, the continuing generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Simmons propelled the center forward, notably through a $50 million commitment in 2005 to ensure UT Southwestern’s eminence in care and research for all types of cancer.

Cancer Center highlights, 2005–2015


Extramural funding for cancer research totals $53 million.

Astronaut during spacewalk
Image courtesy of NASA.

A $9.8 million grant from NASA fuels research into the effects of radiation on astronauts to better protect future space travelers and learn more about the risks of radiation exposure on Earth, such as from CT scans. 

The Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) awards its accreditation to UT Southwestern’s adult bone marrow transplant program, and the Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation recognizes UT Southwestern as a Center of Excellence in research, diagnosis, and treatment.

The Department of Radiation Oncology begins its residency training program, the first in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The Cancer Center launches its Chemistry and Cancer, Development and Cancer, Cancer Cell Networks, and Molecular Pathogenesis and Therapeutic Targeting of Cancer scientific programs with institutional leadership from Melanie Cobb, Ph.D., Luis Parada, Ph.D., Steve McKnight, Ph.D., and John Minna, M.D. to shed new light on factors that cause and promote cancer, and on the disease’s vulnerabilities and potential therapies.


Joan Schiller, M.D.
Joan Schiller, M.D.

Oncologist and noted lung cancer specialist Joan Schiller, M.D., is appointed Deputy Director to lead the growth of the Cancer Center’s disease-oriented teams (DOTs).

A cooperative training program for oncology nursing students from Texas Christian University is created in the Simmons Cancer Center Clinics.

The Advanced Imaging Research Center, which has become a leader in developing new magnetic resonance and other imaging technologies to shed light on cancer and other diseases, is established with 150,000 square feet devoted to it in the new Bill and Rita Clements Advanced Medical Imaging Building.

Cancer Center faculty move into more than 32,000 square feet of laboratory space in the newly constructed T. Boone Pickens Biomedical Research Building on the North Campus.


Texas voters approve Proposition 15, a $3 billion, 10-year initiative that establishes the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), an agency whose mission is to secure the state’s position as a leader in innovative research, development of new treatments, and cancer prevention.

Moncrief Cancer Foundation commits $20 million over 10 years to establish community outreach programs focused on cancer prevention and survivorship. Keith Argenbright, M.D., is appointed medical director of UT Southwestern’s Moncrief Cancer Resources.

Cell biologist Michael White, Ph.D., is appointed Associate Director for Basic Science to catalyze the advance of basic research in the Cancer Center.

Celette Sugg Skinner, M.D.
Celette Sugg Skinner, Ph.D.

Celette Sugg Skinner, Ph.D., is recruited to lead Population Science and Cancer Control, a developing scientific program designed to partner with the community and local health systems to improve cancer prevention, screening, and other services, particularly in patients who lack ready access to the health care system.


UT Southwestern establishes a new biotech park, called BioCenter at Southwestern Medical District, to develop university technologies and attract biotech companies to the region.

The Annette Simmons Stereotactic Treatment Center at Zale Lipshy University Hospital is founded with support from UT Southwestern’s Innovations in Medicine campaign.

UT Southwestern’s bone marrow transplant program is accredited as a joint BMT program with Children’s Healthâ„   Children’s Medical Center.


Zale Lipshy University Hospital receives the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer Outstanding Achievement Award, an honor bestowed on fewer than one in five hospitals evaluated the previous year for programs designed to ensure excellence in cancer care.

Kristina Aguilera
Kristina Aguilera, Cancer Biology graduate student.

The Cancer Biology Graduate Program receives approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; by 2015, the program had grown to include about 50 faculty trainers and around 60 full-time students.

UT Southwestern is named a pilot center for the NCI’s Cancer Target Discovery and Development (CTD2) Network, an initiative designed to translate masses of genomic data about cancers into strategies for treating patients.


Simmons Cancer Center attains National Cancer Institute designation, placing it among an elite group of top-tier U.S. cancer centers. The recognition acknowledges the Cancer Center for scientific leadership and its substantial resources devoted to finding new insights into, and better treatments for, cancer.

The state agency devoted to fighting cancer, CPRIT, funds its first research grants. By late 2015, the agency has awarded nearly $1.5 billion in grants, including $316 million to UT Southwestern—the most of any institution.

The Cancer Center is named one of 14 medical sites to participate in the federally funded Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium, a clinical trial protocol that offers patients with advanced lung cancers free, extensive genetic testing of their tumors in an effort to find the best possible treatments.

The Breast Screening and Patient Navigation (B-SPAN) program, designed to overcome financial and geographical hurdles that keep women from getting mammograms and timely diagnostic services, begins outreach in five rural counties.


A five-year, $6.3 million NCI grant establishes the Parkland-UT Southwestern PROSPR Center for colorectal cancer screening, a unique cancer prevention and detection effort that targets people who lack insurance or are underinsured.

Phil Evans, M.D., Professor of Radiology and Director of the UT Southwestern Center for Breast Care, is inducted as the National President of the American Cancer Society for 2011-12.

Children’s Healthâ„   Children’s Medical Center Dallas, the primary pediatric teaching hospital for UT Southwestern, opens new inpatient and outpatient cancer facilities.

Pediatric oncologist Stephen Skapek, M.D., is recruited to lead the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology and is named Medical Director of what is now the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Medical Center.

Extramural cancer research funding tops $100 million for the first time.

The DNA Repair and Radiation Oncology and Molecular Therapeutics programs is transformed into a new Experimental Therapeutics of Cancer scientific program, to more closely focus on translating UT Southwestern’s foundational scientific discoveries into real-world cancer treatments.


Sean Morrison, Ph.D.
Sean Morrison, Ph.D., of the Children's Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern.

The Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, a $150 million venture dedicated to transformative research on cancer, birth defects, and metabolic diseases, is launched; noted stem cell biologist Sean Morrison, Ph.D., leads the Institute.

CPRIT confers an additional five Multi-Investigator Research Awards, totaling more than $33.5 million, to Cancer Center members, bringing the total number of such awards to 12, representing a sum of more than $78 million, since 2010.

B-SPAN expands its mammography and breast cancer diagnosis support into 12 additional counties to the north, west, and south of Tarrant County and plans an expansion that targets public housing residents in Dallas County through a partnership with the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

UT Southwestern begins offering low-dose CT screening for lung cancer after national trials show the technique saves lives by detecting tumors early in patients with a history of moderate to heavy smoking.

Moncrief Cancer Institute

The new, $22 million, 60,000-square-foot Moncrief Cancer Institute in Fort Worth is dedicated, offering genetic and nutritional counseling, mammography, telemedicine, and support services for cancer patients and survivors.


Simmons Cancer Center establishes its Phase I Clinical Trials Unit to help speed testing of the latest promising potential treatments for cancer patients.

The Cancer Center’s external advisory board approves the Population Science and Cancer Control scientific program, led by Dr. Skinner and Ethan Halm, M.D., and focusing on early cancer detection.

The Cancer Answer Line (1-888-980-6050, canceranswerline@utsouthwestern.edu)—a service to help patients, family members, and the community get answers to general questions about cancer and to better navigate care—makes its debut. By the end of 2014, the Answer Line will have responded to more than 2,000 queries from the public.


Cancer care at UT Southwestern.

The American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer awards UT Southwestern University Hospitals its highest level of accreditation, Three-Year with Commendation at the Gold Level; the hospitals also are among only about 15 percent of cancer programs reviewed nationwide to earn the commission’s Outstanding Achievement Award.

The Department of Radiation Oncology leads a research consortium to plan for the first national Heavy Ion Radiation Therapy and Research Center, a major technological advance in cancer care.

The PROSPR Center mission expands to cervical cancer prevention and detection, studying HPV vaccination and screening in women who are without insurance or underinsured.

UT Southwestern is among just 30 U.S. cancer research centers to be named a National Clinical Trials Network Lead Academic Participating Site, bolstering the Cancer Center’s clinical cancer research for adults and providing patients access to cancer trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.

A formal research affiliation with the Dallas Regional Campus of the University of Texas School of Public Health enhances the Simmons Cancer Center’s public health research expertise and faculty.

William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital
William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital

The state-of-the-art William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital opens, with its entire 11th floor—64 beds—devoted to cancer care.

An anonymous donor provides $10 million to establish the Eugene P. Frenkel Program for Endowed Scholars in Clinical Oncology, which promotes the recruitment and support of the next generation of clinical leaders in cancer care.


UT Southwestern's cyclotron

A new, 4,000-plus-square-foot cyclotron facility begins operations, expanding scientists’ ability to use positron emission tomography to see events inside the body as they occur and to discern details of cancer and other diseases that may aid in the selection of more effective, individualized therapies.

The bone marrow transplant program, deemed a National Center of Excellence by major national insurance carriers, performs the 1,000th transplant in its 16-year history. Among programs in the region, UT Southwestern’s has the highest one-year survival for allogeneic (donor) stem cell transplantation.

Moncrief Cancer Institute infusion room
A private infusion room at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center – Fort Worth.

UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center – Fort Worth, encompassing more than 22,500 square feet in Moncrief Cancer Institute, is dedicated, offering the latest in clinical care and access to clinical trials to residents of Tarrant and 10 other counties.

Moncrief and the Simmons Cancer Center roll out a $1.1 million, custom-designed Mobile Cancer Survivor Clinic to deliver follow-up care and screening services in Tarrant and eight rural counties, focusing on underserved, uninsured cancer survivors.

NCI Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Simmons Cancer Center is designated a “comprehensive cancer center,” the highest ranking awarded by the National Cancer Institute. The designation recognizes exceptional depth and breadth in cancer research, as well as innovative teamwork among scientists to better understand cancer and improve patient and community care.

Parkland Memorial Hospital, UT Southwestern’s primary teaching institution, opens its new, 862-bed hospital, nearly doubling the size of its previous facility.

A $4.8 million CPRIT award to Moncrief Cancer Institute, the largest prevention grant the agency has awarded, funds the Colorectal Screening and Patient Navigation (C-SPAN) program. The program provides free colon cancer screening and assistance with follow-up care for patients in Tarrant and 20 surrounding rural counties.

U.S. News and World Report logo

UT Southwestern earns recognition as one of the nation’s top cancer hospitals by U.S. News and World Report magazine, winning high marks in areas including patient volume and survival, advanced technologies, nursing intensity, and accreditation for bone marrow and tissue transplantation.