New Endowment Will Enable Ut Southwestern To Offer Young Scientists A Rare Opportunity

September 05, 1997

DALLAS -- A unique program to attract the world's most promising young medical scientists to Dallas was announced Sept. 5 at UT Southwestern Medical Center with a $5 million lead gift from a foundation bearing one of the city's most distinguished names. The W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation, which is administered by the Communities Foundation of Texas, chose UT Southwestern for its first major donation to help create an endowment for Scholars in Medical Research. The gift, to be matched by funds from a $25 million challenge grant from an anonymous donor, will create four Caruth Scholars in Medical Research.

When the $50 million endowment is fully funded, UT Southwestern will be able to continually support 20 of the best and brightest young medical faculty in the world, accelerate their research careers, and develop future leaders, not only for the medical school, but for all of medical science.

In one of the most generous medical start-up packages anywhere, each Scholar in Medical Research will receive research funds totaling $600,000 over the first four years of their faculty careers. UT Southwestern will recruit five Scholars at the assistant professor level each year, building a total of 20 Scholars at the end of four years.

The endowment will pay each scholar $100,000 a year in research funds, totaling $400,000 over four years, as well as an initial $200,000 start-up grant. The medical school will pay salaries and provide modern laboratory and office space.

The program brings the young professors into close association with UT Southwestern's exceptional faculty, including four Nobel laureates, 11 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 11 members of the Institute of Medicine and many other leading researchers. It guarantees the scholars secure funding at the same time they are being mentored by some of the greatest senior investigators in the world.

"We want to recruit the next young Nobel laureates and allow them to make the same breathtaking discoveries as their predecessors," said UT Southwestern President Dr. Kern Wildenthal. "We have the scientific leaders to accomplish this. Over 50 percent of all Nobel prizewinners began their work under the guidance of other Nobel laureates, and UT Southwestern has the highest concentration of Nobel laureates of any medical school in the world."

Scientists will be nominated for the program by UT Southwestern's department chairmen and research center directors, then selected by a committee chaired by Nobel laureate Dr. Alfred Gilman.

"We are not looking for scientists who are studying any particular medical problem or disease," said Gilman. "We are looking for the best. We will give them the opportunity to work at the cutting edge of their most promising areas of research. Nothing is more important than the replacement of our best young people. This will never change."

Others on the committee include Nobel laureates Dr. Michael Brown, director of the Erik Jonsson Center for Research in Molecular Genetics and Human Disease; Dr. Johann Deisenhofer, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellow, and Dr. Joseph Goldstein, chairman of molecular genetics. The fifth member of the committee is Dr. Steven McKnight, chairman of biochemistry. All five on the committee are members of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Caruth gift of $5 million will be matched with challenge funds to maintain support for four scholars. The first scholars will be nominated and selected in the near future to begin work at UT Southwestern in September 1998.

"I am optimistic that we will have the program for Scholars in Medical Research at UT Southwestern fully funded very soon." said Dr. Wildenthal. "A gift of $1,250,000, when matched by $1,250,000 of the challenge funds provides $2,500,000 which will support one scholar in perpetuity."

In addition to the $5 million Caruth donation and the $25 million anonymous matching grant for similar gifts, another $5 million has been committed for the program by Southwestern Medical Foundation, a public foundation that holds many funds in trust for UT Southwestern and supports the medical center through research and education.

"It is extremely significant that the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation's first major donation is to UT Southwestern because it fits with what Will Caruth always wanted to do," said Vester T. Hughes, Caruth's longtime friend and legal counsel. "He'd say, `We need to move back the frontiers of knowledge'."

W.W. Caruth Jr. was born in 1912. With a bachelor's degree from Southern Methodist University, a master's from Harvard Business School and a $1,000 reward from his father for not smoking or imbibing until his 21st birthday, Caruth entered the business world during the Great Depression with his own construction and building supply company. He went on to become one of Dallas' most eminent land developers before his death in 1990.

Over the years Caruth, who was known as much for his philanthropy as for his phenomenal success as a businessman, gave several gifts to UT Southwestern for research and equipment. His instructions to his foundation's trustees were to support education, scientific research, medical advancement and public safety.

"He wanted to participate in the discovery of how things work, not just read about it," said Ed Fjordbak, president of the Communities Foundation of Texas. "He wanted to help scientists because he knew they needed support to make discoveries, to make a difference.

At Caruth's request, trustees of his foundation are those of the Communities Foundation of Texas. They are Ebby Halliday Acers, Ruth Sharp Altshuler, Louis A. Beecherl Jr., Linda Custard, Milton P. Levy Jr., Philip O'Bryan Montgomery III, Lydia Haggar Novakov, John F. Stephens, Gifford Touchstone and Charles J. Wyly Jr. Jack Kinnebrew has served as general counsel since 1987; Hughes has served as tax counsel since 1959; and William E. Collins, who served as general counsel from 1960 to 1986, is counsel emeritus.

In thanking the Caruth Foundation trustees for the generous lead gift, Dr. Wildenthal noted that, "this investment in world-class young scientists will bring enormous rewards for years. They will have the field position to make important medical breakthroughs in the future. We are grateful to the W. W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation and trustees for realizing that this gift will make a profound difference not just in our institution but in the future of medical research."

UT Southwestern Medical Center

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