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Medical Research Society founded to support promising work by faculty

In an effort to promote and aid budding medical faculty research, The University of Toledo is creating a society that will grant funding for biomedical projects.

The University of Toledo Medical Research Society supports biomedical research through a community-university partnership by funding grants for promising UT faculty. The society has already gained 12 members who made $25,000 commitments and garnered a $1 million matching donation from The University of Toledo Physicians (UTP).

“There is a new mindset in philanthropy,” said Howard Newman, UT associate vice president for development. “The donor is an investor. In other words, people aren’t just giving money away. They want to see results — measurable results. The Medical Research Society can procure that high level of accountability that today’s donor-investor seeks. ”

UTP, a not-for-profit physician group dedicated to providing the highest quality, efficient health care in a patient-centered environment, agreed to match the commitments of up to the first 40 members and put it toward the growth of the society.

Dr. Christopher Cooper, senior vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, is one of the first members of the society and UTP chairman.

“Biomedical research is critically important for the College of Medicine,” Cooper said. “It is in the process of discovery that we create a better world. The Medical Research Society acknowledges the importance of funded research and will provide critical support for early career investigators who are transitioning to scientific independence.

“Furthermore, the Medical Research Society is a direct reflection of our community’s commitment to the research efforts of our faculty. As dean of the College of Medicine and as a 20-year member of the faculty and community, my wife and I are proud to be members of this effort.”

The society was started by Marianne Ballas, a longtime supporter of the University. Ballas, who owns Ballas Buick GMC on Central Avenue, is the chair of Women & Philanthropy at UT. Under her leadership, the organization was created to support the work of medical faculty members who are progressing into scientific research careers.

The goal is to create a permanent endowed source of seed funding for biomedical research projects developed in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, Newman said.

Newman explained that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) used to fund more than 25 percent of the grants applied for by junior faculty, but in recent years the number has decreased to 10 percent due to reduction in federal funding. For this reason, it is difficult for young investigators in the country to obtain funding for research, which is why the society is aiding these individuals. Once researchers have received funding, it’s easier to get renewal funding, he said.

“Once you’ve demonstrated that you have more than a good idea, that you have in fact a good idea substantiated with data, then your opportunity to go back to the NIH and be competitive and get funding is greatly enhanced,” Newman said.

In the next year, the society is hoping to have 75 members and award its first grant.

For additional information or to become a member, contact Newman at 419.383.6840 or howard.newman@utoledo.edu.