Alumni & Philanthropy
Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Grant Nourishes Genetics Research

How many seeds are in an apple? A botanist will assure you there are eight. But how many apples are in a seed?

“When you think that a seed becomes a tree that starts to bear fruit, how many apples and how many additional seeds are there? What is the potential harvest that we will be able to bear?” asks George Mekras, M.D., chairman of the board of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation. Thanks to $12.5 million in grants to the School of Medicine, announced by the foundation in August, the harvest will be plentiful.

Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Grant group photoHalf of the gift, $6.25 million, will create the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Center for Medical Genetics, an innovative new center for genetics research and one of the first comprehensive genetics initiatives at a U.S. university since the completion of the Human Genome Project’s first draft in June. The foundation also is funding a $6.25 million signature program in public school health that is expected to set the standard as a national model for similar programs.

“This extraordinary commitment will enable us to build upon our significant strengths in genetics research and to enrich our understanding of genetics in a way that will change the way we practice medicine,” says John G. Clarkson, M.D. ’68, senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “We are very grateful to the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation for its vision and generosity in supporting this important work. We look forward to forging an enduring partnership with the foundation to develop this world-class program in genetics.”

The grant for the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Center for Medical Genetics includes funding to recruit a nationally recognized expert in a specific area of focus: cancer genomics, stem cell research, the genetics of prematurity, or the genetics of birth defects. The grant also provides funding for additional research faculty members, a fellowship, education programs in medical genetics, and necessary equipment and supplies.

“We wanted to make a profound statement by funding major new initiatives,” says Dr. Mekras. “We are delighted to provide the initial capital that will enable the University of Miami to make a quantum step forward in the new and exciting horizons of the evolving medical genetics field. We also are very excited about entering into this partnership between a well-respected research university and our growing community-based foundation.”

The Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation, founded in 1951, is perhaps best known as the organization that owned and operated Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables. When the hospital was sold in 1992, the foundation was converted to a grant-making philanthropic organization.

The new center initially will be under the guidance of R. Rodney Howell, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics and president of the American College of Medical Genetics. A national search is actively under way for a permanent director for the center.

“We knew the magnitude of what was coming with the first draft of the human genome sequence last summer,” says Dr. Howell. “We have been working closely with the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation for some time now to develop a strategy for initial funding of what we are sure will become the preeminent center for genetics research in this country.”

The public school health program is under the guidance of Arthur Fournier, M.D., professor and vice chair in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. More information on that program will be announced in the coming months.

The $12.5 million in grants to the School of Medicine are the largest commitments in the history of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation and represent a fundamental change in its giving strategy, according to Kim Greene, executive director of the foundation. The foundation’s new approach—while still focused intently on the health care of children and families—is to provide start-up grants for major new initiatives in Miami-Dade County.

Papanicolaou Corps Breaks Fundraising Record in Fight Against Cancer

Dedicated donors prove every day that one person can make a difference. So imagine what 10,000 generous people can do—when all are focused on making a difference in the fight against cancer.

The Papanicolaou Corps for Cancer Research defies all trends for volunteer organizations. This vibrant group continues to grow, thrive, and raise record-breaking sums to support the UM/Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. The $1.3 million raised this year is the largest donation ever given by the Papanicolaou Corps in its 48-year history. The record-setting check, presented to UM/Sylvester Director W. Jarrard Goodwin, M.D., before a cheering luncheon crowd of more than a thousand Pap Corps members and guests, will support innovative cancer research at UM/Sylvester.

“The generosity and dedication of this group is truly overwhelming,” Dr. Goodwin says. “Each and every member individually contributes in a way that reminds us that one person truly can make a difference. Collectively, their generosity helps us make even greater strides in eradicating this life-threatening disease and will ultimately make a difference in the lives of countless South Floridians.”

The organization was created in 1952 to raise funds to support cancer research in the Greater Miami area. The group’s mentor was George Papanicolaou, M.D., whose discovery of the Pap test has spared thousands of women from cervical cancer. Today, the Papanicolaou Corps has 30 chapters in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties with a membership of nearly 10,000. One of the oldest and largest charitable organizations in South Florida, it has raised more than $12 million for cancer research.

“Many of our members are cancer survivors themselves, so their commitment is motivated by a heartfelt desire to make the future brighter for their families and their community,” says Papanicolaou President Eleanor Kalvin. “Collectively, this group wants to make miracles happen. The wonderful thing is, we have so much fun doing it.”

Batchelor Foundation and BellSouth Host Children’s Celebrity Golf Classic

Children’s Celebrity Golf Classic group photoThe Batchelor Foundation, Inc., along with BellSouth, recently played host to the Children’s Celebrity Pro-Am Golf Classic at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa to benefit the University’s Department of Pediatrics. Hollywood celebrities Angelica Bridges from Baywatch and Bob Goen of Entertainment Tonight, as well as Third Watch’s Eddie Cibrian, joined sports legends including Hall of Fame member Johnny Unitas, Super Bowl champion Marshall Faulk, and World Champion Sam Jones to make the charitable golf weekend a great success.

George E. Batchelor, founder of the Batchelor Foundation, Inc., and lead donor of the Batchelor Children’s Center-Comprehensive Research Institute at the School of Medicine with his $10 million gift, was the renowned local celebrity. Batchelor’s prominent career in the aviation industry as well as his entrepreneurial accomplishments have made him a legend in South Florida. But it is his longstanding support of charitable causes benefiting children and the homeless that distinguish him as one of the area’s most notable philanthropists.

Because the School of Medicine’s Cystic Fibrosis Center was instrumental in treatment to extend the life of his son Falcon, Batchelor created an endowed chair in pediatric pulmonology at the School of Medicine and has since supported the pediatric pulmonology program’s operational fund. But the launching of the Batchelor Children’s Center is the most ambitious mission of this aviation pioneer in the war against illnesses that particularly affect children. The building is scheduled to open this summer.

Lois Pope LIFE Center Marks New Era for Neuroscience Research

Advancement in neuroscience research is underway with the recent opening of the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the School of Medicine. This state-of-the-art scientific facility is the spectacular new home of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and houses other neuroscience programs.

Lois Pope LIFE Center group photo“We are very grateful to Lois Pope for her magnificent gift. Her generosity has helped make this new research center a reality,” says Edward T. Foote II, president of the University of Miami. “The University has emerged as a leader in neuroscience research, and we are now able to bring together under one roof scientists, clinicians, and doctoral fellows who are working to find treatments and cures for neurological diseases and injuries.”

Emcee for the dedication was Tom Brokaw, anchor of NBC’s Nightly News. Other guests included luminaries Lois Pope; UM Trustee Nick Buoniconti and his son, Marc; UM Trustee Gloria Estefan; Christopher Reeve; and General Norman Schwarzkopf.

The seven-story, 118,000-square-foot Lois Pope LIFE Center houses 20 laboratories on five floors, in addition to nearly 100 School of Medicine faculty members—from basic scientists and clinicians within The Miami Project to neurologists, neurosurgeons, and additional specialists. The top floor houses a conference center with the latest in teleconferencing capabilities.

“I hope my efforts awaken in others an understanding that making a difference in the world is the right and responsibility of each one of us,” says Pope. “Everyone can make a difference.”

The Miami Project was cofounded in 1985 by Barth Green, M.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery in the School of Medicine, and the family of Miami Dolphins legend, Nick Buoniconti. The collaboration began after Nick’s son Marc was paralyzed from the neck down following a spinal cord injury during a college football game.

The Lois Pope Life Center.Pope is the founder of LIFE, Leaders in Furthering Education, an organization dedicated to rewarding and encouraging young community volunteers. She became interested in the neurosciences when Christopher Reeve, a friend and member of the LIFE board of directors, was paralyzed in a horseback riding accident. Following Reeve’s accident, she learned of The Miami Project’s work and was moved by its efforts to help people who face the daily challenges of living with paralysis.

The opening of the Lois Pope LIFE Center brings to fruition her gift of $10 million in 1996, one of the largest private gifts ever committed for research on spinal cord injury. Her gift was matched by the State of Florida in the spring of 1998. The facility also received significant funding through a successful building campaign chaired by Estefan, who is a member of the University of Miami Board of Trustees, and from considerable gifts from the Buoniconti Fund.

Accomplishments at The Miami Project include comprehensive studies of human spinal cord tissues after injury, as well as studies of human nervous system cells. Such studies have provided direct evidence of regeneration of adult human central nervous system tissue.

“This building has been a dream of ours for many years, and now that dream is realized,” says John G. Clarkson, M.D. ’68, senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “What a testament this is to the wonderful things that can happen when the right people come together. With a world-class facility like the Lois Pope LIFE Center, and with the immensely talented teams of researchers we have assembled, we are poised for greatness.”

Gifts Establish Chairs, Foundations, and Hope for Advancements in Medicine

By establishing the Robert Shapiro, M.D., Chair in Radiology, Marc and Teri Shapiro pay homage to Marc’s father, Robert Shapiro, M.D., a talented and internationally respected neuroradiologist who never stopped learning and sharing his knowledge.

The Late Dr. Robert ShapiroA born educator, Dr. Shapiro was presented the Outstanding Teacher Award at the School of Medicine in 1990. He published many inveterate works, beginning in 1939 in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences through 1990 in Spine and in Radiology. His latter works correlate medicine and religion, encompassing ancient writings and teachings including the Talmud and the Bible. Concentrated and painstaking research led to the publication of his text, The Embryogenesis of the Human Skull, a reference without precedent. Through his radiological clinical investigations and publications, Dr. Shapiro will be immortalized in the field of medical education.

The Robert Shapiro, M.D., Chair in Radiology serves as a fitting legacy for this outstanding physician and mentor. His influence will continue to facilitate and encourage research and development in radiological specialization, especially in neuroradiology, his particular interest. Robert Quencer, M.D., the first recipient of The Robert Shapiro, M.D., Chair in Radiology, dubbed his admired colleague “the quintessential professor—learning and teaching simultaneously” and characterized him as having been “an all-around nice guy.”

Smith & Nephew, one of the country’s leading makers of surgical instruments and medical equipment, believes in the importance of training America’s next generation of physicians and scientists. That’s why the company’s ENT division supports the School of Medicine’s Residency Training Program in Otolaryngology.

Smith & Nephew provides supplemental funding for the department’s residents, allowing them access to conferences and other programs that enhance their training in otolaryngology. The residency training program consists of four years of progressive experience in all aspects of otolaryngology--head and neck surgery, and fulfills requirements for certification by the American Board of Otolaryngology.

Company President Jerry Q. Dowdy presented the otolaryngology department chairman Thomas Balkany, M.D. ’72, with a check representing Smith & Nephew’s second year of support at the recent American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery annual conference in Washington, D.C.

“Smith & Nephew is very pleased to support the University of Miami’s Department of Otolaryngology and its resident program,” Dowdy said. “The University of Miami is one of the finest training programs in the nation, and we’re pleased to know that our gift will have a positive impact on the work of our future physicians and otolaryngologists.”

The first floor vestibule in the new Lois Pope LIFE Center, home of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, has been named in honor of Mary Kate Callahan, daughter of Jack and Joann Callahan of Illinois. When Mary Kate developed transverse myelitis in infancy, her large extended family rallied to support research intended to regenerate the spinal cord. Their heartfelt effort resulted in the formation of The Claddagh Foundation, conceptualized by Jerry and Jim Callahan, Mary Kate’s great uncles, for the purpose of raising awareness and funding for spinal cord injury research at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. The Callahan family and friends’ support is helping advance vital research and laboratory studies that will one day reverse central nervous system damage.

The Lois Pope LIFE Center also received a generous gift from Christine Lynn in memory of her late husband, Eugene M. Lynn, a prominent business leader and renowned humanitarian. The Lynns, longtime supporters of scientific study at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, also donated the lobby in the new Lois Pope LIFE Center, the home of The Miami Project. The Lynns have been champions of the project’s progressive success in scientific research.

University of Miami Medicine Online
tool bar