U. of I. College of Medicine receives $3 million from C.W.B. Foundation
By Cynthia M. Hall
Leaders of University of Illinois have announced receipt of a transformational gift of $3 million from the C.W.B. Foundation to create, at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford, a center that unites renowned physicians, researchers and technologies to produce cutting-edge cell regeneration research in support of people with disabilities.
“On behalf of the University of Illinois, I’m delighted to be here today to announce the C.W.B. Foundation’s generous $3 million gift to establish a new life-changing research center on our Rockford campus. The center will be unique, among a select few focused on the emerging science of cell regeneration, and a point of great pride for both the University and this community,” said University of Illinois President Bob Easter. “It will bring in top researchers who will partner with our experts in medicine, technology and other fields to pursue breakthroughs to improve the lives of people with disabilities. The center could yield cures or pioneering innovation that will enhance quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries, lost limbs or debilitating diseases.”
“We are committed to this endeavor, which could lead to an improved quality of life, something we all strive to achieve for ourselves and our community members,” said Mark Blazer, board member, C.W.B. Foundation. “I am excited to see what is to come.”
“As we are all aware, the world is moving in new and exciting directions,” said University of Illinois Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares. “The information age and globalization is upon us. This requires permeable boundaries between traditional disciplines in order to create the knowledge necessary to meet the challenges of the 20th century. The interface between and among disciplines, and the promise this approach will bring towards greater solutions to the challenges faced by persons with disabilities, is what we are here to celebrate today.”
Through a combination of the C.W.B. Foundation gift and matching funds from the university, the college will recruit a senior scientist as the Cedric W. Blazer Professor for cell regeneration research, who will also serve as the director of the research program. A second named professorship will also be enlisted as the Michael A. Werckle, M.D., Professor who will partner with the senior scientist to ensure the success of the research program. Additionally, a curriculum and educational program will be developed for students interested in regenerative medicine. This will expand and enhance the work in this field and, it is hoped, lead to life-changing discoveries. Given this lead gift, the university will have the opportunity to seek additional resources to make the program a reality.
Dimitri Azar, dean of the College of Medicine, adds: “This is a great step forward for the University of Illinois. Tissue engineering is the use of a combination of cells, engineering and materials methods, and suitable biochemical and physio-chemical factors to repair or replace damaged biological tissues or organs.”
In addition, the center will train clinicians, medical students, budding scientists, and graduate and undergraduate students on the science of regenerative medicine. Thus, Rockford will become a hub for training the next generation of clinicians and scientists who will be experts in regenerative medicine for individuals with disabilities.
“The C.W.B. Foundation is the lead funder of this program. Other funding will be sought during establishment of the research program to fully capitalize on this extensive opportunity for the college, the university, the community and the field of cell regeneration. This key gift provides the impetus for amazing research and development at the College,” said Dr. Lipsky.
From the Jan. 30-Feb. 5, 2013, issue
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