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Children’s Research Institute receives $30 million in gifts

Because of the foresight and generosity of several of Dallas’ leading foundations, more than $30 million has recently been committed to Children’s Medical Center Foundation to catapult the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) into a leader in pediatric research.

Record-setting donations were given by the Hamon Charitable Foundation ($15 million on top of a previous $10 million gift in 2012 for the CRI) and the Pogue Family Foundation ($10 million in addition to $10 million for other programs at Children’s Health). Additionally, the Moody Foundation has contributed a second multimillion gift of $2.7 million for recruitment and equipment; the Hoblitzelle Foundation has pledged $2 million; the Constantin Foundation has provided $1.55 million; the Pollock Foundation has made donations totaling $1 million; and the Lupe Murchison Foundation has given $300,000.

“To say we are humbled and inspired by these tremendous gifts is an understatement,” said Children’s Health CEO and president Christopher J. Durovich. “The Children’s Research Institute and its director, Dr. Sean Morrison, are revolutionizing the future of pediatric medicine, the impact of which has no boundaries. We are proud that these outstanding foundations in our community want to join the revolution.”

Launched in 2011, the CRI received its first major financial boosts in 2012 and 2013 with an initial $10 million gift from the Hamon Charitable Foundation and a $7.5 million commitment from the W.W. Caruth Jr. Foundation at the Communities Foundation of Texas. Other major contributors have included Rolf and Ute Schwarz Haberecht, Debbie and Ric Scripps, Dean Foods Foundation, Jerome T. and Patricia Flood Abbott Family Foundation, Emy Lou and Jerry Baldridge, Alison and Mark Weinzierl, Kathryne and Gene Bishop, Dr. and Mrs. Henry Estess, the McDermott Foundation, the estate of Eddie Alexander and the Morton Feldman Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Montgomery, Donna S. and Robert A. Chereck, and Mr. and Mrs. Doyle D. Glass, among others.

Dr. Morrison serves as director of the CRI and leads his own award-winning research program in the Hamon Laboratory for Stem Cell and Cancer Biology. As CRI director, he oversees an enterprise that is fulfilling the ambitious goal of recruiting 15 principal investigators, each overseeing labs of 8 to 15 scientists.

In just three years (2012-2014), he has already recruited six outstanding faculty members and 66 staff scientists, who are collectively generating $8 million per year in peer-reviewed external grants to leverage the philanthropic gifts it receives to maximize the impact on biomedical research. The recent gifts from the Hamon, Pogue, Moody, Hoblitzelle, Constantin, Pollock and Murchison foundations will move the CRI from its formative years into its mature years, said Children’s Medical Center Foundation president Dr. Kern Wildenthal.

“We are tremendously grateful to these Texas foundations for propelling the CRI into even greater international prominence,” said Dr. Wildenthal, who serves as president emeritus of UT Southwestern in addition to his role at Children’s. “These funds will ensure that the CRI will be among the world’s leaders in finding new treatments and cures that have the potential to transform medicine. “Quite simply, the world will be a better place because of what these gifts will make possible.”

Jake and Nancy Hamon are Dallas legends. Mr. Hamon was an independent oilman, and Mrs. Hamon was a Hollywood actress in the 1940s. After her husband’s death in 1985, Mrs. Hamon focused on her philanthropic passions: medicine, art and young people. Before her death in 2011, she gave more than $35 million to support UT Southwestern and Children’s Medical Center and an even greater amount to the arts in Dallas. The foundation to which she bequeathed the fortune made by her late husband, Jake, continues to fulfill their goal of improving life and health for others. In addition to its $25 million gifts for the CRI, the Hamon Foundation has donated similar amounts to UT Southwestern for complementary research programs.

The Pogue Family Foundation’s remarkable $10 million gift, which is dedicated to pediatric cancer research, more than doubles this foundation’s previous contributions to Children’s. In 2001 the Pogue family established the hospital’s Pogue Cardiac Catheterization Lab with a $3 million gift, and in 2008 a $5 million gift funded an endowment to support outstanding clinicians practicing at Children’s, as well as an expansion of the hospital’s Pulmonary Function Lab. In addition, the Pogue Family Foundation has been a longtime supporter of pediatric cardiology and pulmonary research at UT Southwestern, having donated $6 million to support the medical school’s pediatric leaders based at Children’s and $2 million for Alzheimer’s disease research. Long involved in the Dallas community, Jean Pogue and her husband, Mack Pogue, who co-founded Lincoln Property in 1965 with Trammell Crow and has served as its longtime chairman and CEO, are passionate about supporting organizations that directly benefit children and medicine.

The Moody Foundation’s initial support to the CRI enabled the purchase of a state-of-the-art cell sorter and analyzer for the Moody Foundation Flow Cytometry Facility. The most recent $2.7 million gift, which brings the total Moody support for the CRI to $5.35 million, will expand the Institute’s research capabilities through the purchase of additional specialized equipment and by providing funding to aid the recruitment of an additional leading scientist. The Moody Foundation was created for the perpetual benefit of present and future generations of Texans by William Lewis Moody Jr. and his wife, Libbie Shearn Moody of Galveston.

The Hoblitzelle Foundation’s $2 million commitment to the CRI will provide for the purchase of laboratory equipment, development of research capacity, and technology enhancements. The foundation has been one of UT Southwestern’s and Children’s foremost supporters through the years, having given many major gifts to support faculty recruitment, research programs and new construction. Mr. Karl Hoblitzelle, who was a co-founder of Southwestern Medical Foundation, donated the land that became the site of the first Southwestern Medical School buildings. Mr. Hoblitzelle was the founder of Interstate Amusement Co., which included the Majestic Theatre, as well as a director and chairman of the board of Republic National Bank for decades.

The Constantin Foundation’s gifts to the CRI are being used to support cancer and stem-cell research under Dr. Morrison. A longtime, loyal supporter of Children’s Medical Center, the foundation made a multiyear $5 million commitment in 2009 to enable the recruitment of a medical director of the Stem Cell Transplantation Program in the Pauline and Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. The foundation was started by oilman Eugene Constantin and his wife, Ruth, in 1947, shortly after the death of their only son.

The Pollock Foundation, a significant supporter of both cancer and gastrointestinal research at UT Southwestern, has turned its attention to the CRI with multiyear commitments totaling $1 million. Lawrence Pollock Jr., former chairman of the board of Pollock Investments, served on the board of University Medical Center Inc. while Zale Lipshy University Hospital was being constructed. His wife, Shirley Pollock, who died in 2008, expressed her wish to do something meaningful in medical research in honor of her husband, who died of cancer in 2000. Additionally, scholarship support in her name continues to benefit young medical students. Current trustees of the Pollock Foundation are Robert G. Pollock, Lawrence S. Pollock III and Richard R. Pollock.

The Lupe Murchison Foundation has contributed $300,000 to the CRI’s Genetic and Metabolic Disease Program, which is directed by Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis. The Murchison Foundation has had a longstanding interest in medical research and education as evidenced by pledges in 2008 of $1.5 million to UT Southwestern’s Endowed Scholars Program in Medical Science and $1 million to Children’s bone marrow stem cell transplantation program, as well as numerous other six-figure donations. The foundation was established in 2001, the year Mrs. Murchison died. A Texas arts patron and civic leader, she was the widow of John D. Murchison, co-owner of the Dallas Cowboys for more than two decades. She and her foundation have made major donations to the University of North Texas, where she served as a Regent for 18 years, as well as to Children’s and UT Southwestern.

“Without the support of the community, we could not do what we do,” said Dr. Morrison, who holds the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Scholar in Cancer Research. “We would not be able to compete with the best institutions in the country to bring the best scientists to Dallas. We are grateful for the leadership and foresight of the Dallas community and their investments in the future of biomedical research.”

About CRI

Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) is a joint venture established in 2011 to build upon the internationally recognized scientific excellence of UT Southwestern Medical Center and the comprehensive clinical expertise of Children’s Medical Center, the flagship hospital of Children’s HealthSM. CRI’s mission is to perform transformative biomedical research to better understand the biological basis of disease, seeking breakthroughs that can change scientific fields and yield new strategies for treating disease. Located in Dallas, Texas, CRI is creating interdisciplinary groups of exceptional scientists and physicians to pursue research at the interface of regenerative medicine, cancer biology and metabolism, fields that hold uncommon potential for advancing science and medicine. More information about CRI is available at: cri.utsw.edu.

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