To Establish Four Endowed Professorships For New Research Institute
May 19, 2003 --
With a $3 million gift from the Charlottesville-based
Ivy Foundation and matching support from other sources, the University
of Virginia will establish four new endowed professorships for its
emerging programs in morphogenesis and regenerative medicine.
gift was announced Monday at the opening of an international symposium
hosted by the University’s new Morphogenesis and Regenerative
Medicine Institute. An interdisciplinary endeavor that draws on
faculty expertise in medicine, the basic sciences, biomedical engineering
and other fields, the institute comprises researchers who are studying
how cells form into specific organs and tissues and how to harness
these natural processes to repair tissues damaged by disease or
injury. This 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.
$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. Each faculty
chair will be endowed at $1 million, and each will provide an additional
$500,000 to support the chair-holder’s research. These funds
may be used for such purposes as hiring graduate research assistants,
renovating laboratory space or purchasing new equipment.
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.
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 Dr. R. Ariel Gomez, the University’s
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.”
based in different departments, all four faculty members holding
Ivy Foundation chairs will be members of the new Morphogenesis and
Regenerative Medicine Institute. Dr. Barry M. Gumbiner, chair of
the Department of Cell Biology and director of the new institute,
said the complexity of its research demands collaboration across
scientific and medical disciplines.
this scale of scientific challenge successfully will require a highly
multidisciplinary approach,” Gumbiner said. “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
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.
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.”
ranked 25th among its peers in research funding from the National
Institutes of Health, the Department of Pediatrics hopes to move
into the top 20 over the next five years. The Ivy Foundation chair-holders,
who will come with well-established research programs, will enhance
the department’s ability to meet this goal.
by William C. Battle, a University of Virginia alumnus and former
chairman and chief executive officer of Fieldcrest Mills, the Ivy
Foundation was created in 2000 with funds remaining from the closure
of the W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center in Lake Placid, N.Y. The
assets that were transferred from the Cell Science Center to the
Ivy Foundation consisted of some $7 million in cash and the company
Upstate Biotechnology Inc. Formed by the W. Alton Jones Foundation
to supplement its income, the Lake Placid firm makes products used
in life science research and drug discovery.
purpose of the Ivy Foundation is to support basic research that
will lead to real and significant outcomes in medicine,” said
Battle. “By strengthening the research capabilities of the
Department of Pediatrics, and by helping the University launch the
morphogenesis institute, creating these professorships fits perfectly
with our goal.”
addition to providing the $3 million for the new faculty chairs,
the Ivy Foundation has made some $500,000 in other grants for biomedical
research at the University.
information on the Morphogenesis and Regenerative Medicine Institute
may be found on the Web at www.morphogenesis.virginia.edu.
Fariss Samarrai, (434) 924-3778