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Release: May 31, 2002

Roy J. Carver Research Programs of Excellence announced

The University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine has announced the first five Roy J. Carver Research Programs of Excellence, which are funded as part of a $63 million grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust of Muscatine. The grant, which was announced on March 6, is the largest ever made to the UI.

Each of the five programs will receive $200,000 in annual support from the Carver Charitable Trust for the next five years. The Carver Trust has committed a total of $15 million to funding the Carver Research Programs of Excellence over the next 15 years.

"Each of these programs involves pioneering research that will push the boundaries of our knowledge of human diseases," said Robert P. Kelch, M.D., dean of the college and UI vice president for statewide health services. "They involve some of our most brilliant researchers and hold great promise for advancing medicine."

Troy K. Ross, Ph.D., executive administrator of the Carver Trust, said the programs selected are indicative of the world-class biomedical research enterprise at the UI.

"Each of the recipients of the initial Carver Research Programs of Excellence grants has an established track record of research excellence," Ross said. "We are confident that these grants will help propel their efforts to even greater levels of success."

"These Carver grants fund some of the college's most promising areas of inquiry," said Allyn M. Mark, M.D., the college's associate dean for research and interim executive dean. "These research programs have a high likelihood of making extremely important discoveries."

The recipients of the Carver Research Programs of Excellence are:

• Donald D. Heistad, M.D., Zahn Professor of Cardiology (internal medicine and pharmacology), and Curt D. Sigmund, Ph.D., professor of internal medicine and physiology and biophysics; "Functional Genomics of Cardiovascular Disease." The project studies genes involved in regulation of the heart and blood vessels. Using various techniques to manipulate these genes in animals, the researchers are studying how the genes influence the development of coronary heart disease, stroke and hypertension.

• Raymond J. Hohl, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of internal medicine and pharmacology, and David F. Wiemer, Ph.D., professor of chemistry; "Pharmacological Study of Intermediates in Cholesterol Biosynthesis for Cancer Treatment." This study examines interactions of precursors of cholesterol with certain growth-promoting proteins. These interactions have been implicated in the development of specific cancers. The researchers are investigating the possibility that drugs having useful anticancer properties can be developed from chemically modified cholesterol precursors.

• James R. Howe V, M.D., associate professor of surgery; "Genetic Basis of Juvenile Polyposis and Gastrointestinal Cancer." The team examines the genetic causes of juvenile polyposis (JP) and cancers of the stomach and intestinal tract. Individuals with JP develop polyps in the gastrointestinal tract and are at increased risk of developing colorectal and stomach cancers.

• M. Sue O'Dorisio, M.D., Ph.D., UI Foundation Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics; "Stem Cell Biology/Cellular Mechanisms of Tumor Metastasis." This new team of researchers investigates how human bone marrow stem cells can be developed for treatment of genetic diseases and cancer. They also will study the biology of malignant stem cells that are the source of metastases in malignancies such as leukemia, melanoma and brain tumors.

• Val C. Sheffield, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute associate investigator, and Edwin M. Stone, M.D., Ph.D., professor of ophthalmology and director of the UI Carver Laboratory for Ophthalmic Molecular Diagnosis; "Molecular Ophthalmology/Inherited Eye Disease." Sheffield and Stone are investigating how different genetic defects result in blindness and vision impairment. They are also researching new approaches to prevention and treatment of macular degeneration and glaucoma.

In addition to funding the Carver Research Programs of Excellence, the $63 million gift announced in March, which will be provided over a period of up to 15 years, will be used as follows:

• $10 million for the UI Carver College of Medicine Capital Improvement Program. This gift was announced earlier this year and will support the construction of the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver Biomedical Research Building, the groundbreaking for which will be in the fall of 2002.

• $10 million for construction, renovation and support of core research facilities on the UI Carver College of Medicine campus. Sixty percent of these funds will be placed in a permanent endowment and 40 percent reserved for capital projects.

• $8 million to support research by individual investigators within the UI Carver College of Medicine. These funds will support the Carver Medical Research Initiative Awards and Carver Collaborative Research Grants program, and one to three-year Carver Grants on a per-invitation basis. These Carver grant programs will fund highly innovative research.

• $20 million to establish research-related faculty endowments associated with specific department or division headships and professorships within the college.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at