$22 Million from Retail Pioneer Launches
Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute
A new and extraordinary gift to the University of Michigan Health System is making possible a new and extraordinary institute — one with a mission of supporting fundamental research to advance the understanding of the causes, treatment and prevention of a broad range of human diseases.
The A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute, being established in the Medical School, is named for the retail pioneer whose funding and vision led to its creation. In addition to $7 million of support for research into neurological diseases being conducted by neurologist Eva Feldman, a new $15-million commitment by Taubman creates an endowment whose earnings will fund the institute, and the research of individual Taubman Scholars within the institute, for generations to come.
David Pinsky, Valerie Castle, Max Wicha, A. Alfred Taubman, Eva Feldman and Yehoash Raphael
The first five Taubman Scholars, including Feldman, have been chosen from among the Medical School’s top scientists. Each was selected for his or her remarkable creativity and research that holds the potential to significantly advance the development of a cure or preventive treatment for a human disease.
Typically, scientists will receive three-year grants that will provide $200,000 per year for their laboratory teams to pursue the most promising possibilities in their work. The scholars also will serve as advocates for research by taking part in efforts to educate the public about the importance of biomedical research, and of public and private support. At the end of three years, the scholars’ grants may be renewed, and new scholars may be chosen from among the Medical School faculty, by an oversight committee chaired by U-M Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs Robert Kelch (M.D. 1967, Residency 1970). In addition to Kelch, the committee includes Medical School Dean James Woolliscroft, M.D. (Residency 1980); Kim Eagle, M.D., co-director of the Cardiovascular Center; Feldman, who was the first Taubman Scholar chosen; Taubman; and Jeffrey Miro, a Michigan-based attorney and adjunct professor at the U-M Law School. In November, Feldman was named director of the institute.
Taubman, who studied architecture at the U-M, borrowed $5,000 at age 26 to found a small development company, and three years later — in 1953 — opened his first shopping center in Flint, Michigan. Today, The Taubman Company is one of the world’s largest developers and managers of commercial real estate, with a portfolio of shopping malls located in major markets from coast to coast, as well as in newly-emerging markets across Asia.
By developing and introducing many important retail design and business refinements — from climate-controlled, enclosed malls to efficient parking and circulation systems, to the first food courts — Taubman has profoundly changed not only the way people shop, but also how they live, work and socialize.
With his gift to create the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute and support research at the Medical School, Taubman has solidified his position as one of the University of Michigan’s leading donors. Taubman’s cumulative giving to the University now stands at more than $60 million — more than $56 million of which has been given as part of the University’s $2.5 billion Michigan Difference fund-raising campaign.
The first five Taubman Scholars are:
Valerie Castle, M.D. (Fellowship 1990), a pediatric cancer specialist whose lab is working on strategies to make cancer cells “commit suicide” in the most common form of solid-tumor cancers in children. Castle chairs the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, and holds the Ravitz Foundation Professorship in Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases.
Eva Feldman (M.D. 1983, Ph.D. 1979), a neurologist whose laboratory has already received support from Taubman to fund research on the use of stem cells and other novel approaches to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease (see “Taubman Gift Advances ALS Research,” summer 2007 Medicine at Michigan). Feldman heads the Program for Neurology Research and Discovery and is the Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology.
David Pinsky, M.D., a cardiologist who studies proteins involved in preventing the formation of clots inside blood vessels, which could lead to a new class of drugs to prevent strokes and heart attacks. Pinsky also serves as chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine; the J. Griswold Ruth, M.D., and Margery Hopkins Ruth Professor of Internal Medicine; and as a director of the Cardiovascular Center.
Yehoash Raphael, Ph.D., a cell biologist who is developing ways to grow stem cells into the auditory hair cells that are crucial to our ability to hear, and to implant those cells into deaf ears to replace damaged cells and restore hearing. Raphael is the R. Jamison and Betty J. Williams Professor of Otolaryngology and a member of the U-M Kresge Hearing Research Institute.
Max Wicha, M.D., a cancer researcher who reported the first finding of stem cells in a solid tumor — the small number of cells that fuel the tumor’s growth. Wicha serves as the founding director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Distinguished Professor of Oncology.
—Kara Gavin and Glen Sard
more information, a podcast of Taubman and the five inaugural Taubman
Scholars discussing this gift and commenting on the Taubman Institute’s
potential to accelerate U-M research, as well as audio comments by the