Neurologist and research scientist Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., has been selected to direct the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan Medical School. The Institute was established in September, through a $22 million gift from the retail pioneer whose name it bears.
Even as she serves as the institute's first director, Feldman will also continue in her role as one of the first five Taubman Scholars - U-M scientists who receive unrestricted funding from the institute's endowment to help their teams pursue fundamental research on the causes, treatment and prevention of a broad range of human diseases. The first five Taubman Scholars are tackling heart disease, deafness, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders.
"I am both excited and honored to serve as the first director of the Institute, which I believe will become a major scientific force within the University of Michigan Health System and beyond," says Feldman, who is also the DeJong Professor of Neurology. "Al Taubman has unique insight into the challenges of biomedical research. He understands that with ‘high risk' comes ‘high reward.' We are all very grateful to Al and his family for their generous support of this newly formed Institute."
Feldman's own laboratory team, the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery, is pursuing research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Their work is partly funded by $7 million in gifts from Mr. Taubman, who lost a close friend to the disease. His gifts are helping fund research being performed by the U-M team and researchers at the University of California, San Diego, to evaluate the use of stem cells as a potential treatment for ALS.
"Eva is a natural choice to head the Institute, because of her own understanding of what's needed to translate laboratory results into clinical practice - but also because of her leadership abilities," says James O. Woolliscroft, M.D., dean of the Medical School. "She will lead the way in realizing Mr. Taubman's vision for the Institute."
"I am committed to advancing biomedical discoveries and am 100 percent behind Eva's vision for the Institute," says Mr. Taubman. "To quote Winston Churchill: What is the use of living if it is not to make this world better for those who live in it after we are gone?"
In addition to Feldman, the first Taubman Scholars are Valerie Castle, M.D., David Pinsky, M.D., Yehoash Raphael, Ph.D., and Max Wicha, M.D. Each receives a three-year grant that provides $200,000 per year for his or her laboratory team to use in their pursuit of new knowledge.
"The funding provided by the Institute allows investigators to pioneer new areas of investigation," says Feldman. "I believe Al Taubman's support will result in discoveries that transform our approach and treatment to human disease."
Written by: Kara Gavin