Cystic Fibrosis Research Unit at Dartmouth Given $15M Anonymous Donation

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth announced that it has received a $10 million gift from an anonymous donor, plus a $5 million matching donation, also given anonymously, that will be used to accelerate its research into better treatments and, ultimately, a cure for cystic fibrosis (CF).

The $15 million in donations were part of Dartmouth’s ‘academic clusters’ initiative, through which the university secured $100 million in philanthropy between 2014 and 2015 to establish 10 new interdisciplinary groups of faculty, a Geisel news release reported.

Geisel’s CF research hub encompasses 24 faculty and nearly 100 researchers — including postdoctoral fellows and graduate students — and the team has raised $87 million in grants and contracts over the past four years. Geisel’s clinical partner is Dartmouth-Hitchcock, a nonprofit academic health system that has won awards for its quality CF care.

The new funding will allow Geisel to recruit additional faculty with CF expertise in clinical trials, host-defense interactions in the lung, fungal and bacterial infections, genomics, bioinformatics, and systems biology.

“This gift to the Dartmouth Cystic Fibrosis Program will strengthen, intensify, and expand our research efforts to identify personalized cures for every CF patient,” said Dr. Bruce Stanton, Dartmouth Lung Biology Center’s Andrew C. Vail professor and director. “The generosity of these donors will benefit generations and generations of people who live with CF every day.”

Under the fundraising initiative, each $10 million gift created a cluster and was met by a $5 million match. The clusters received will create 30 new faculty positions at the New Hampshire-based university and its professional schools.

“Many years from now, I think we will all look back and point to the cluster mechanism as a landmark impact on our institution,” said Dr. Duane Compton, Geisel’s interim dean, in the release. “Not only do these funds provide for faculty support in perpetuity, but they will seed the formation of focused teams that are tackling some of the most challenging areas of medicine today.”

The CF cluster aims to treat the basic genetic defect that causes the disease, and develop therapies that might eliminate the fungal and bacterial lung infections affecting CF patients. The release reported that current CF medications benefit only about 60 percent of patients.