Mayo Clinic receives $15 million to launch innovative neuroscience research program


Goal is faster translation of research findings into patient care

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Mayo Clinic has received $15 million for research that will accelerate the testing of promising therapies for patients with diseases of the nervous system. This is the first major gift to Mayo Clinic's Discovery, Innovation and Investment Fund and will help launch an intense program of research focused clearly on patient care. Of this gift, $8 million will be used to test treatment approaches that have already been shown by discovery research to be ready for human trials; $3 million has been dedicated to basic research. Examples of neuroscience research include Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, stroke and spinal cord injury.

The gift, from Eugene and Marcia Applebaum of Bloomfield, Mich., also includes $4 million to endow two Mayo Medical School professorships; this amount will be matched by Mayo Clinic. "People want to know there is hope around the corner," says Mr. Applebaum. "Translational research is the seventh inning of research and there often isn't enough funding at that point to move the research findings quickly to the patient. And, there needs to be a strong educational component to all of this."

Rated the nation's number one neuroscience research center by U.S. News and World Report, Mayo Clinic's translational research is unique. "We are sincerely grateful for the Applebaums' generosity and for their significant interest in research," says Denis Cortese, M.D., President and CEO of Mayo Clinic and the chair of the Discovery Translation Investment Committee. "This gift will support physicians who can take the basic research discoveries of their colleagues and figure out how to apply that knowledge to the treatment of their patients. The Applebaum funding will help Mayo Clinic narrow the gap between basic science and patient care because Mayo Clinic marries the lab and the clinic in a way no other organization does. This is innovation at its best."

Through a peer-reviewed process that recognizes top opportunities to translate scientific discoveries into patient care, Mayo Clinic researchers from a variety of disciplines will be eligible to apply for a grant from the Investment Fund. In addition to this important gift from Mr. and Mrs. Applebaum, Mayo will dedicate to this fund a portion of its own revenues, generated through the commercialization of Mayo-developed technologies, to further support this research.

"Typically it takes many years for a discovery to move out of the lab and into the clinical setting," explains John Noseworthy, M.D., a neurologist and chair of the Neuroscience Research Initiative. "We believe this additional funding will help accelerate that process by giving support to researchers who are working directly with patients. These physicians can use the knowledge they gain from day-to-day interaction with their patients to figure out how a discovery may eventually have application to patient care. This is a very exciting time for research and for the future care of our patients."

"At Mayo Clinic, we see our work as having three component parts: practice, education and research," says Hugh Smith, M.D., chair of the Mayo Clinic Rochester Board of Governors. "While the process of research is lengthy, it strengthens our medical practice every day because the presence of research creates a spirit of inquiry that keeps people asking questions and searching for answers. And sharing this information through formal and informal education opportunities means everyone here can benefit from it. We truly value this partnership the Applebaums have helped make possible."

The Applebaums are long time patients and benefactors of Mayo Clinic. Mr. Applebaum is the president of Arbor Investments Group. A pharmacist, he founded Arbor Drugs in 1974, and it grew to be the eighth largest drugstore chain in the nation. In 1998 it was acquired by Rhode Island-based CVS, a "Fortune 100" organization and the nation's largest drugstore chain. Applebaum sits on that company's board.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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