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Release: March 1, 1999

Carver Trust of Muscatine funds UI medical research endowments

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A $3 million gift from the Carver Charitable Trust to the University of Iowa Foundation as part of the UI College of Medicine capital campaign will create endowments to support biomedical researchers.

Last summer the Muscatine-based organization gave $3 million to help fund the college's new Medical Education and Biomedical Research Facility, now under construction. The two Carver Trust commitments are among the leadership gifts to the College of Medicine's $25 million facilities and endowment campaign, "Seeking Knowledge for Healing." The new building is now under construction and should be completed in 2001.

"The research faculty whose programs will be supported with the proceeds from this endowment award are considered by the Carver Charitable Trust to be three of the College of Medicine's preeminent scientific investigators," said Troy Ross, executive administrator of the Carver Charitable Trust. "This type of support should serve to recognize their outstanding research accomplishments and the potential they possess to continue to contribute substantially to their respective fields."

Three renowned UI scientists have been nominated for the Roy J. Carver Endowed Chairs in Biomedical Research: Kevin Campbell, Ph.D.; Beverly Davidson, Ph.D.; and Michael Welsh, M.D. The scientists nominated for the endowed chairs are:

Campbell, professor of physiology and biophysics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, is a pioneering scientist whose studies of muscular dystrophies and calcium channels have garnered international awards. A UI faculty member since 1981, Campbell and his colleagues have identified the molecular genetic defects that lead to muscular dystrophy. In other research, Campbell and his colleagues are investigating gene therapy for some types of epilepsy.

Welsh, professor of internal medicine, physiology and biophysics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and director of the UI Cystic Fibrosis Center, is a prolific researcher whose pioneering studies of cystic fibrosis have attracted international attention. A member of the UI faculty since 1981, Welsh leads a team of researchers that is studying the molecular defect in cystic fibrosis and ways to correct the defect in human airway cells. He is also conducting promising research into the hereditary form of high blood pressure.

Davidson, associate professor of internal medicine and director of the Gene Transfer Vector Core Facility, has been on the UI faculty since 1994. She and her colleagues have developed the UI's nationally recognized program in vascular biology. Davidson is also a leader in use of gene transfer in the study and treatment of Batten's Disease, a neurological disease.

"These productive scientists are known as innovators, collaborators and mentors," said Robert P. Kelch, dean of the UI College of Medicine. "The Carver endowed chairs, the new biomedical research laboratory and the long-term support from the Carver Charitable Trust will help establish a foundation for the next generation of interdisciplinary biomedical research at Iowa."

The endowments for the research professorships will be invested through the UI Foundation. The annual spendable earnings from the endowments will be used for salary support and direct research expenses.

The college and the UI Foundation recognized the Carver Trust's earlier gift to the campaign by naming the research center on the top two floors of the new facility as the Roy J. Carver Molecular Science Research Center.

Before his death in 1981, Muscatine industrialist and philanthropist Roy J. Carver contributed nearly $10 million to the University of Iowa in support of scholarships, professorships, medical research and Iowa athletics. Also, the Roy J. Carver Pavilion at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is named in recognition of his generosity to the hospitals.

This most recent gift to the medicine capital campaign brings to more than $27 million the total the Carver Charitable Trust has given to UI-related projects such as biomedical research, technology in the UI Libraries, a summer engineering institute, facilities improvements, student scholarships, and grade school literacy.

The UI Foundation is the preferred channel of support for private contributions to all areas of the University of Iowa. Foundation staff work with alumni and friends to provide funds for facilities improvements, scholarships, professorships and other forms of support for the UI.