Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

$35 Million Gift Received by Diabetes Research Institute Foundation and UM/Sylvester

10.17.2006

The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation and the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center today jointly announced the receipt of a $35.6 million gift from the estate of the late Eugenia J. Dodson of Coral Gables. Two-thirds of the gift will go to the Foundation, which supports the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and one-third will go to UM/Sylvester. Mrs. Dodson designated that the gift be used for cure-focused research in the two diseases that dramatically impacted her family.

Mrs. Dodson died just 24 days short of her 101st birthday. The quiet and unassuming woman lived frugally, and managed to nurture and grow a modest legacy left to her by her late husband, the love of her life, more than a half-century ago and turn it into an estate in excess of $35 million. Despite her affluence, the former beautician lived her life without any of the trappings of wealth because she had a much higher purpose for her money. Her two brothers died from complications of diabetes, and she herself was a lung cancer survivor. The afflictions of these illnesses fueled her passion to give back.

“This spectacular gift provides the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation and UM/Sylvester with unprecedented opportunities to expand current research activities, explore promising scientific areas, develop new treatments, and greatly accelerate progress toward a cure for two of the most prevalent and devastating diseases in this country, diabetes and cancer,” said University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala. “The numbers are staggering: Almost 21 million Americans suffer from diabetes, and half of all men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Moving research forward is critical.”

“Gene lived a truly selfless life so she could fulfill her philanthropic goals. After her beloved Enloe’s death, she husbanded her wealth and made astute investments in blue chip stocks. Her fortune grew over a period of more than 50 years,” said Donald E. Kubit of Fowler White Burnett P.A., Mrs. Dodson’s attorney and co-trustee of her revocable trust. “Eugenia Dodson’s final estate plan was consistent with her profound desire to fund research to find cures for diabetes and cancer.”

For the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, the fundraising arm of UM’s Diabetes Research Institute, the gift represents the largest single contribution in its 35-year history. The extraordinary donation comes on the heels of a stream of multi-million dollar gifts the Foundation has received in just the last year alone, further underscoring the DRI’s distinction as a recognized world leader in cure-focused diabetes research. The tremendous contribution will play a pivotal role in enabling the DRI to bring the most promising new discoveries to patients more quickly than ever before.

Robert A. Pearlman, president and chief executive officer of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, said, “We are deeply grateful to Eugenia Dodson for creating such a meaningful legacy. This landmark gift will transform the lives of millions with diabetes. The funds will support new scientific initiatives and create the J. Enloe and Eugenia J. Dodson Diabetes Center for Translational Research, where DRI scientists can harness the power of many emerging technologies to cure this devastating disease. The significance of this gift cannot be overstated in terms of what it will mean for people living with diabetes who look to the DRI with hope.”

“Mrs. Dodson’s generous gift will allow us to create new programs and expand existing ones in several critically important areas of diabetes research where progress needs to be made. Not only will we be able to jump start research immediately in these areas, but we will also be able to bring in additional top tier scientists and their teams to Miami to work with us in these important initiatives,” explains Camillo Ricordi, M.D., scientific director and chief academic officer of the Diabetes Research Institute.

For UM/Sylvester, this gift has enabled the creation of two endowed chairs, the Dodson Chairs in Cancer Research, awarded to Glen N. Barber, Ph.D., and Eli Gilboa, Ph.D. Dr. Gilboa will also lead the Dodson Interdisciplinary Immunotherapy Institute, which will allow UM/Sylvester to greatly enhance its multidisciplinary Tumor Immunology Research Program, aimed at preventing and curing different types of cancers. Immunological intervention is lately showing new promise as a treatment modality that uses the body’s own immune system to fight back against the deadly disease.

“This gift will allow us to make a quantum leap forward in our research efforts,” said UM/Sylvester Director, W. Jarrard Goodwin, M.D., F.A.C.S. “Mrs. Dodson’s wonderful example will inspire the entire UM/Sylvester family. I am thrilled to have Dr. Gilboa on board to lead our efforts in cancer immunotherapy.”

How the Gifts Will Be Used

The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, in support of the Diabetes Research Institute will:

  • Endow the J. Enloe and Eugenia J. Dodson Chair in Diabetes Research at the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
  • Create the J. Enloe and Eugenia J. Dodson Diabetes Center for Translational Research
  • Fund new scientific initiatives in cutting-edge areas of diabetes research, including new drug discovery, tolerance induction, tissue engineering, nanotechnology, alternative sources of insulin-producing cells, beta cell biology, cell regeneration.
  • Procure highly-specialized and technologically advanced research equipment
  • Establish the Raymond and Russell Johnson Fellowship in Type 1 Diabetes Research
  • The UM/ Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center will:
  • Create two endowed chairs as Dodson Chairs in Cancer Research (to honor both J. Enloe Dodson and Eugenia J. Dodson) at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
  • Name a new immunotherapy program for the Miller School of Medicine, the Dodson Interdisciplinary Immunotherapy Institute.

About the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation

The Diabetes Research Institute Foundation is a 501© 3 not-for-profit organization whose mission is to provide the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine with the funding necessary to cure diabetes through islet transplantation and other cell-based therapies. The Diabetes Research Institute is a recognized world leader in cure-focused research. Pioneering many of the techniques used in islet cell transplantation since the early 1970’s, the DRI has successfully reversed diabetes in patients involved in ongoing clinical trials. The Institute’s research is now directed at improving transplant processes and developing new biomedical technologies and cell-based therapies to restore insulin production. The most comprehensive diabetes research facility of its kind, the DRI conducts a broad range of scientific programs focused on the rapidly evolving fields of pancreatic stem cell development, transplant immunology, molecular biology, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, among others, to speed the most promising findings from the lab to the patient. For the millions of families already affected by diabetes, the Diabetes Research Institute is the best hope for a cure. www.diabetesresearch.org.

About the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

UM/Sylvester opened in 1992 to provide comprehensive cancer services and today serves as the hub for cancer-related research, diagnosis, and treatment at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. UM/Sylvester handles 1,400 inpatient admissions annually, performs 3,000 surgical procedures, and treats 3,000 new cancer patients. All UM/Sylvester physicians are on the faculty of the Miller School of Medicine, South Florida’s only academic medical center. In addition, UM/Sylvester physicians and scientists are engaged in 200 clinical trials and receive more than $31 million annually in research grants. UM/Sylvester at Deerfield Beach opened in 2003 to better meet the needs of residents of Broward and Palm Beach Counties. This 10,000 square-foot facility at I-95 and S.W. 10th Street offers appointments with physicians from six cancer specialties, complementary therapies from the Courtelis Center, and education and outreach events. http://www.sylvester.org.

About the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine

The Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine campus consists of 45 acres within the 100-acre UM/Jackson Memorial Medical Center complex. Other facilities at the medical center, in addition to Jackson, include the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center and two University-owned hospitals—the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and Anne Bates Leach Eye Hospital, home to the top-ranked Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. Bascom Palmer was ranked the number one eye hospital in the country for the third time in a row in the 2006 annual survey of “America’s Best Hospitals” published in U.S. News & World Report; five other programs at UM/Jackson also ranked among the best. Miller School of Medicine faculty conduct more than 1,525 research projects in basic science and clinical care in facilities totaling more than two million square feet of space, including the newly-opened Clinical Research Building. www.med.miami.edu.

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