“We are a relatively young school that has achieved a remarkable degree of success in half a century,” says John G. Clarkson, M.D. ’68, senior vice president for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “We’re in our formative years—unencumbered by tradition, restless for progress, not content until we’ve moved from good to great.”

Since its founding in 1952, the school has become a magnet for entrepreneurial people who are driven to innovate and solve medical mysteries. UM scientists have made major contributions to the worldwide effort to eradicate, ameliorate, and prevent disease. The School of Medicine is renowned for its leadership to conquer some of the most devastating medical problems. For instance, scientists at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis made the groundbreaking discovery of successful regeneration of adult human central nervous system tissue. At the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, researchers have developed therapies for macular degeneration and glaucoma that will help millions who suffer from these diseases. Throughout the school and across all disciplines, pioneering work is being done, which has brought both recognition and research funding.
“We currently rank 43rd out of 126 schools of medicine in terms of federal funding for research,” Clarkson says. “Our goal is to be among the top 20—that will put us in the company of many of the world’s most prestigious medical centers.”While the Momentum campaign is aimed at enhancing all aspects of the School of Medicine, the focus will be on developments in genetics, cancer treatment, cardiovascular science, student education, community service, and facilities improvements. For example, last year, with funding from the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation, the school recruited top geneticists from around the country to create an interdisciplinary genetics program. At the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, new clinicians and scientists are coming onboard to turn promising research into diagnostic techniques, therapies, preventions, and cures. And to rise to the top ranks of academic medical centers, the school has plans to create substantial new space for clinical research, basic science research, and patient care. World-class facilities will empower people and programs and speed the rate of discovery.The Momentum campaign will enable the School of Medicine to accelerate research, attract the best teams of physicians and scientists, and build sophisticated centers. The University’s overall fundraising goal of $1 billion is the largest announced by any university in Florida, and UM is one of only 25 universities in the nation seeking that amount

“ This campaign is about people,” says President Donna E. Shalala. “It is an opportunity for those who care for the University of Miami to step up and help us accelerate progress, empower learning and discovery, and intensify our impact on people in our city, across the country, and around the world.”

During the campaign launch events in October, the University announced two new donor societies. Three distinguished organizations with longtime ties and a tradition of giving to the School of Medicine—the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, the Harcourt M. and Virginia W. Sylvester Foundation, and The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis—were inducted into The Millennium Society, which honors those who have contributed a cumulative $50 million or more to the University. And 21 members were inducted into the newly formed Miami Society, which recognizes those who have committed a cumulative $10 million or more.

The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation recently donated $50 million to the Diabetes Research Institute at the School of Medicine. The money will support the DRI’s pioneering work in transplantation of insulin-producing islet cells, a groundbreaking treatment that is considered the most promising method for curing diabetes. Since its inception in 1971, the DRI Foundation has raised more than $100 million for the institute’s research programs.

On the night of the campaign launch, The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis announced it was donating an additional $18.6 million to The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the School of Medicine. The Buoniconti Fund serves as the national fundraising arm of the Miami Project and is designed to complement the scientific accomplishments of the Miami Project by generating funds and raising awareness.

Cancer research and treatment at UM/Sylvester also was bolstered by a new $11.5 million campaign gift from the Harcourt M. and Virginia W. Sylvester Foundation. This latest donation brings the Sylvester family’s total giving to UM to $50 million. In the years since it opened, the cancer center has become a premier institution, paving the way to a multidisciplinary approach to both research and patient care.

The vision of our founders was to make the School of Medicine an international center of medical excellence,” says Clarkson. “We’ve made great strides, and now we’re ready to fulfill our potential. This campaign is a way to jumpstart the process by gathering around us more of the kind of dynamic people who will move us to the next level.”

Photography by Chris Hamilton and Pyramid Photographics.
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