May 30-June 12, 2003
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Ivy Foundation helps endow four professorships

By Bill Sublette

With a $3 million gift from the Charlottesville-based Ivy Foundation and matching support from other sources, the University will establish four new endowed professorships for its emerging programs in morphogenesis and regenerative medicine.

The gift was announced May 19 at the opening of an international symposium hosted by the University’s new Morphogenesis and Regenerative Medicine Institute. The institute’s work holds tremendous promise for remedying birth defects, controlling cancers and healing wounds. It may even lead to
the ability to produce replacement tissues and organs for transplantation.
The $3 million gift from the Ivy Foundation will create two professorships in the Department of Pediatrics to attract faculty whose research focuses on morphogenesis and regenerative medicine.

With a matching $3 million from its own resources, the University will create two more professorships to recruit outstanding researchers in this field. One professorship will be assigned to the Department of Cell Biology in the School of Medicine. The other will be in the Department of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences. All four chairs will be named the Ivy Foundation Distinguished Professorships, pending approval by the Board of Visitors.

“These professorships will help us build a critical mass of superb investigators whose research sheds light on the basic processes of tissue and organ formation and how we can use these discoveries to develop new therapies,” said R. Ariel Gomez, interim vice president for research and graduate studies and a leading researcher in this field. “The Ivy Foundation chairs will enable us to recruit eminent faculty who in turn will attract outstanding graduate students and junior faculty. They will be magnets for excellence.”

Though based in different departments, all four faculty members holding Ivy Foundation chairs will be members of the new Morphogenesis and Regenerative Medicine Institute.

“Approaching this scale of scientific challenge successfully will require a highly multidisciplinary approach,” said Barry M. Gumbiner, chairman of the Department of Cell Biology and director of the new institute. “The institute promotes continuous interactions and collaborations among scientists in areas such as cell biology, genetics, developmental biology, computational biology, medicine, chemistry and materials engineering. By bringing these forces together, we can make extraordinary progress in solving the major problems in morphogenesis and regenerative medicine.”

Pediatrics is among the clinical disciplines that will benefit most immediately from these advances. By bridging the clinical and basic sciences, the physician-researchers holding the Ivy Foundation chairs will play a key role in translating the institute’s discoveries into new therapies that benefit infants and children.

“These world-class faculty will also be vital to our educational mission,” said Dr. Robert L. Chevalier, chair of the Department of Pediatrics. “There is currently a crisis in the supply of pediatric physician-scientists. The new chair-holders will serve as role models for students, residents and fellows who intend to pursue careers in high-quality research.”

Chaired by William C. Battle, a U.Va. alumnus and former chairman and chief executive officer of Fieldcrest Mills, the Ivy Foundation was created in 2000.
“The purpose of the Ivy Foundation is to support basic research that will lead to real and significant outcomes in medicine,” said Battle.

More information on the Morphogenesis and Regenerative Medicine Institute may be found on the Web at http://www.morphogenesis.virginia.edu.


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