DRIF $100M Gift and Other Donations Celebrated at Momentum2 Launch

At a celebration marking the public launch of the University’s $1.6 billion Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami, 740 donors, faculty, administrators and friends broke into applause after Sebastian the Ibis handed an envelope to UM President Donna E. Shalala, who announced that the campaign has so far raised $906 million, including the lead gift of $100 million from the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation.

Behind her on stage at UM’s BankUnited Center on February 16, music soared from the University’s Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, conducted by Frost School of Music Dean Shelly Berg.

There was a similar musical overture and a standing ovation when UM Trustee Steve Sonberg, a national board member and former chairman of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, announced the lead gift and the foundation’s commitment to the Miller School’s Diabetes Research Institute to find a cure for the disease.

“With this new gift, we look forward to reaching the finish line,” Sonberg said. “We are thankful for this partnership and we are proud to be a part of Momentum2. We hope our commitment inspires many others to give.”

About 94,000 donors have already contributed to Momentum2, pushing the University past the halfway mark of its $1.6 billion goal by 2016.

Though ambitious, the goal is essential for the University to meet its objective of becoming the next great research university. The money will be used to fund new student scholarships, enhance the undergraduate experience, secure endowed chairs and professorships, build world-class facilities, support cutting-edge research, and promote leading health care and scientific programs at the Miller School and UHealth-University of Miami Health System. Partially propelled by the first Momentum campaign, the Miller School has climbed 12 spots, to No. 39, in funding from the National Institutes of Health over the past five years.

“It is impossible to overstate just how critical the DRIF’s support has been to us,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School. “Because of their consistent funding, we have been able to make extraordinary discoveries toward a cure for type 1 diabetes and translate our findings in the lab to patients in the safest and most efficient way possible.

“And this is just one example of the remarkable work taking place all across our Miller School campus.”

Robert A. Pearlman, president and chief executive officer of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, reiterated that the Diabetes Research Institute has become a world leader and made great strides in cure-focused research, in great measure because of the DRIF’s leadership and countless contributors. The foundation is the largest donor in the University’s history, having provided more than $225 million to date for translational research at the DRI.

UM Trustee Stuart Miller, chair of the Miller School’s Momentum2 campaign effort, told the audience that what he thought would be a commitment of three hours a year has grown into a weekly passion because he’s so captivated by all the advances taking place across campus. “With each turn, I came to know deeper and deeper that the work we were embarking on was important work,’’ Miller said. “Scratch the surface and you will be sucked in.’’

In addition to the DRIF gift, several new and notable contributions to the Miller School were announced at the launch event. They include $7.5 million from the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation to name the Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute at the University of Miami; $10.3 million from the Starr Foundation to help the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute broaden its preclinical and clinical research with stem cells; and $40 million from the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis for the pioneering spinal cord injury research of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, which is about to begin FDA-approved clinical trials.

“The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis is proud to continue its significant support of the groundbreaking research at the Miller School’s Miami Project to Cure Paralysis,” said Buoniconti Fund President Marc Buoniconti. “This gift, in support of the Momentum2 campaign, will allow Miami Project scientists to continue to set the pace as the leaders in the field of spinal cord injury research, and add to the tradition of excellence in education and research long established at the University of Miami. Since its inception, people have looked to The Miami Project as a beacon of hope for a cure for paralysis, and these funds will help bring those cures to clinic as quickly and safely as possible.”

The Pap Corps, Champions for Cancer Research, an all-volunteer organization 21,000 strong, continued its longstanding and ardent support of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center with a $25 million gift.

At the launch, which featured entertainment by singer Kenny Loggins, several other speakers highlighted the University’s growing prominence and the numerous achievements, many fueled by the original Momentum campaign, that have helped enhance so many lives. With much important work still ahead, Miller encouraged members of the audience to help the University and the Miller School honor their illustrious history and shine even brighter on the international stage.

Concluded at the end of 2007, the University’s record-breaking Momentum campaign raised more than $1.4 billion for endowed chairs and professorships, scholarships, facilities, academic and medical programs, and other initiatives.

“It was important for us to grow our University because the past was just the beginning,” Miller said. “The past means that we can stand on a strong foundation to raise money for the future and be ever greater as we go forward.”

For more information about the Momentum2 campaign, visit the Momentum2 website.

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