Cardiovascular Innovation Institute celebrates fifth anniversary with $1 million gift


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Birthday parties for 5-year-olds usually involve gifts — and as the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute turned five today, it was no exception.

    The Mansbach Foundation of Ashland, Ky., provided $1 million to establish the Mansbach Research Endowment to support the hiring of a new researcher in regenerative medicine at the CII, a joint collaboration between the University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services.

    The gift was formally presented at the CII’s reception celebrating its five years of “advancements, inventions and innovations” by John Woods, III, vice president of the foundation’s Board of Directors. The gift was accepted by Stuart Williams, Ph.D., CII executive and scientific director, and Laman Gray, M.D., CII medical director.

    “After touring the CII, seeing the physical plant, meeting the people and understanding the goal of the Institute, I could think of no other more worthy cause of our funds,” said Gerald Mansbach, chairman of the foundation. “Had I not visited, I would not have given that size of a gift. The CII is something everyone needs to see and rally behind.”

    “This gift will add significantly to achieving the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute’s long-term goal of propelling the science of regenerative medicine forward,” Williams said. “We anticipate that within the next decade we will be well on our way to developing the world’s first ‘bioficial’ heart, or a heart that can be grown in the laboratory entirely from a patient’s own cells.”

    “We are grateful to the Mansbach Foundation for this gift that will enable us to recruit an exceptional regenerative medicine scientist to continue our work,” said Gray, who performed the first heart transplant in Kentucky in 1984 and whose surgical team implanted the first fully implantable replacement heart, the AbioCor™, in 2001. “This support is critical to helping us find new medical breakthroughs that combat our nation’s No. 1 killer, cardiovascular disease.”

    The university also intends to leverage the gift though matching gifts from other sources such as corporations, other foundations and individuals. The new endowment also will be eligible for a “Bucks for Brains” matching gift if the Kentucky legislature is able to resume funding of the Bucks for Brains program in the future.

    About regenerative medicine
    Regenerative medicine is a rapidly expanding field that encompasses the repair or replacement of tissues and organs impaired by disease, trauma or congenital abnormalities. In patients with heart disease, regenerative medicine promises cures through accelerated repair of diseased arteries using tissue engineering, cell-based therapies and devices such as artificial hearts, hybrid hearts — those that are grown in the laboratory — vascular grafts and stents.

    About the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute
    Since opening its doors in 2007, the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute has focused on the discovery, development and implementation of innovative treatments for cardiovascular disease. The CII’s main goal is to foster a world-class collaborative, integrated, multi-disciplinary enterprise encompassing basic, translational, clinical and population research in cardiovascular disease, affecting individuals throughout their entire lifespan, from pre-natal life to death. This is also the goal of the National Institutes of Health and has been identified as the most important area of medical research for the next decade. More than 20 research scientists carry out this important work in the CII’s facilities equipped with the latest technology available anywhere in the world including innovative research labs, operating rooms, medical imaging facilities, intensive care, monitoring facilities and the latest diagnostic equipment.