The gifts will fund research on a vaccine for childhood cancers, provide scholarships for outstanding undergraduates interested in health-related fields and enhance health and wellness initiatives at the university’s McConnell Center.
The foundation is supporting the Dr. Salvatore and Kathy Bertolone Endowed Chair in Pediatric Cancer Research with a $500,000 gift. Kenneth Lucas, professor of pediatric hematology and oncology, recently was named the first chair of the endowment. He is leading a team engaged in a Phase 1 clinical trial of a vaccine to prevent recurrence of neuroblastoma and sarcoma, which are among the most common and deadly of all childhood cancers.
“The Humana Foundation believes in the high quality research and academic work taking place at the University of Louisville,” said Mike McCallister, foundation chairman. “We hope our gift will further UofL’s mission and spur others to make similar commitments.”
The Humana Foundation is giving $2 million for initiatives at the McConnell Center that will:
Establish the Humana Foundation Scholarship in Health Leadership for McConnell Scholars
Create public education programs focused on health and wellness
Support student research and internships in health policy
Expand health and fitness offerings for student leaders
Beginning in 2015, the McConnell Center will award its first scholarship in health leadership to an incoming McConnell Scholar who has demonstrated strong interest in medicine, health care economics or health policy. From 2016 to 2018, the center will add one additional health leadership scholarship each year. The Humana Foundation grant will support four McConnell Scholars by 2019.
The new McConnell Center initiatives will facilitate education and inspire young leaders to improve the health and well-being of their communities. An annual forum will bring experts in health-related fields to campus to engage with students and the public. By supporting internships, the gift will encourage scholars to use their careers to improve health. Expanded health and fitness offerings for McConnell Scholars and other scholarship students, including the Jones Scholars and Brown Fellows, will keep health at the forefront of their thinking as they become future leaders of Kentucky and the nation.
“UofL students, community members and children across the globe will now feel the influence of the Humana Foundation’s commitment to cancer research, health policy and wellness issues,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “We’re proud of these gifts from an organization that believes in the great work being done at its hometown research university.”
The Humana Foundation’s gift brings the total raised by UofL’s “Charting Our Course” fundraising campaign to more than $820 million. The goal is $1 billion by June 30, 2014.