Generous Benefactor

Lyda Hill steps into limelight with monumental $50 million donation to cancer research

Lyda Hill makes monumental $50 million donation to cancer research

Dallas philanthropist Lyda Hill has pledged $50 million to the Moon Shots Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, making it the largest donation in the program’s history.

The Moon Shots Program began in September as an extensive effort to combat cancer and significantly reduce cancer deaths. It comprises six teams of researchers from MD Anderson that focus on eight types of cancer, including melanoma, lung cancer, and triple-negative breast and high-grade serous ovarian cancer.

“I’m excited about the Moon Shots Program,” Hill said in a statement. “It represents a different direction for research that crosses disciplines and offers new hope for breaking cancer’s codes. I’m pleased to offer my support to this historic effort.”

Hill is no stranger to record-breaking gifts. In 2011, she gave $20 million to her alma mater, the Hockaday School — the largest in its history.

The program intends to take the knowledge and practices gathered from the six teams and apply it to fighting other cancers.

The $50 million will go toward several “high-priority” projects, including reliable and low-cost lung cancer screenings and screenings for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations.

Actress Angelina Jolie recently had a double mastectomy after she learned she had the BRCA1 mutation.

Ronald DePinho, M.D., president of MD Anderson, said in a statement that Hill's donation will be vital to the success of Moon Shots, which is expected to cost $3 billion in its first decade.

“Its broad application across the cancer care continuum of prevention, detection, treatment and survivorship will play a significant role in the success of the entire Moon Shots Program, especially in the areas of early detection, risk assessment, and the development of more effective treatments for multiple cancer types,” Dr. DePinho said.

To recognize the contribution, MD Anderson will name the institution the Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center.

Hill, the granddaughter of Texas oilman H.L. Hunt, is no stranger to record-breaking gifts. In 2011, she gave $20 million to the Hockaday School, her alma mater. It was the largest single gift in the school's history and the largest donation from a living alumna of a private girls' school in America. 

The gifts to Hockaday and MD Anderson notwithstanding, Hill isn't wont to publicize her generosity. Keeping with her commitment of supporting health advances, Hill recently donated several million dollars to an undisclosed medical research facility.

Lyda Hill
Lyda Hill pledged $50 million to the Moon Shots Program at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Photo courtesy of MD Anderson Cancer Center