In late 2007, the late A. Alfred Taubman, one of America’s leading entrepreneurs and philanthropists, launched the medical research institute that bears his name at the University of Michigan Medical School. His vision was to create a research community at the university where fundamental scientific discovery can begin to unlock the core processes of disease, to aid in their diagnosis, treatment and cure, thereby alleviating the suffering of millions of people throughout the world. His commitment to the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute now stands at $100 million, the largest donation in the history of the University of Michigan Health System.
Alfred Taubman’s Vision
Over the past half century, Alfred Taubman revolutionized the retail landscape in America, assembling one of the finest collections of shopping malls in the world. Beyond this, he established a record of accomplishment in a number of other business endeavors, including land development, art appraisal and auction, and the restaurant industry. He chronicled his achievements and described his philosophy of business leadership in the book "Threshold Resistance."
Creation of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute, by providing resources for the pursuit of research discoveries unfettered by conventional granting mechanisms, reduces a barrier to blue-sky, creative research. It, in fact, lowers the threshold resistance for stepping into new fields, permitting creative scientists to follow early hunches that lead to great cures.
Taubman’s Relationship with the University of Michigan
Alfred Taubman is well-known for his generous contributions to a variety of worthy causes, including many at the University of Michigan, the school which he attended and with which he still has strong ties. He has given selflessly to the architecture college, where he was a student and which is now named after him, and to the university’s world-class medical system. His total contributions to the university now stand at more than $142 million.
The capstone of his legacy is the creation of the Taubman Institute.
Why the University of Michigan?
From its inception, the University of Michigan Medical School has established a reputation for developing national leaders in medicine. Four of the eight founding faculty at the Johns Hopkins Medical School received their training at the University of Michigan. Will Mayo, who founded the Mayo Clinic, was a medical graduate at U-M. The brothers who started the Upjohn pharmaceutical company also were products of the medical school.
Today, the University of Michigan remains one of the outstanding medical research institutions in the world, regularly on the forefront of scientific discovery. Notably, the man who led the nation’s human genome project, Francis Collins, did his work as a member of the University of Michigan medical faculty.
A Community for Creative Science
Because of its global reputation for research excellence, the University of Michigan has become a magnet for the most intelligent, aggressive and talented teachers, researchers and medical students. They are working on exciting, new approaches to the most basic and challenging issues of human biology and disease. The establishment of the Taubman Institute is an important leap forward in this process.
Through the gift of Alfred Taubman and the generous contributions of others, an institution is developing on the university campus where scientists can work collaboratively in advancing discovery in many pressing medical fields. The Taubman grants are funding research on cardiovascular disease, adult and childhood cancers, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and other neurodegenerative disorders, diabetes and other metabolic diseases (like Muscular Dystrophy), advanced imaging and surgical devices. The Taubman Instittue also helped found and continues to support M Stem Cell, one of the most productive embryonic stem cell laboratories in the world.
The Potential of the Taubman Institute
Alfred Taubman has given the University of Michigan an unprecedented opportunity to establish a research enterprise with the potential to alleviate the suffering of literally millions of people afflicted by terrible diseases. The university’s scientists are on the threshold of amazing advances in the control and cure of these ailments. The Taubman Institute will help them step through this door of discovery.
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