Kaul Foundation donates $7 million for UAB Personalized Medicine Institute

The Kaul Foundation gives UAB $7 million to establish the Hugh Kaul Personalized Medicine Institute.

hugh kaul webHugh KaulThe Hugh Kaul Foundation has donated $7 million to the University of Alabama at Birmingham to establish the Hugh Kaul Personalized Medicine Institute at UAB. The gift was accepted by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees, which approved the creation of the institute in June 2014.

Personalized medicine is an emerging practice of medicine that uses an individual’s genetic profile to guide decisions for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease.

“The Kaul Foundation has been a staunch supporter of medical advancement at UAB, as well as providing support for the College of Arts and Sciences, Sterne Library and WBHM,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts, M.D. “Naming the institute the Hugh Kaul Personalized Medicine Institute is a fitting way to commemorate Hugh Kaul’s philanthropic legacy and the foundation’s exceptional support of UAB.”

The institute will enhance the delivery of personalized medicine by assembling and supporting UAB researchers and clinicians in an interdisciplinary program aimed at discovering new knowledge in fields such as cardiovascular disease, transplantation, cancer, diabetes, infectious diseases, immunology and the neurosciences.

Along with two other new entities at UAB — the UAB Informatics Institute and the UAB HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine — the Hugh Kaul Personalized Medicine Institute will pave the way for significant growth and acceleration of personalized medicine in Alabama, the region and beyond. All three programs will be housed in the School of Medicine, pulling together scientists and physicians from a variety of disciplines to bear on a multitude of diseases and disorders.

“This is the future of medicine, and UAB is positioned to lead the way,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS, senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the UAB School of Medicine. “These three institutes will work collaboratively to transform the advancement of medicine — expanding research into the genetic factors related to diseases and how to precisely target treatments based on a patient’s individual genetic makeup. The knowledge gained here will be transformative for Alabama and the nation.”

Hugh Kaul was a highly respected businessman, civic leader and four-term member of the Alabama Legislature. He was a founder, director and president of the Alabama Forestry Council and was president and treasurer of the Kaul Lumber Company from 1931 until his retirement.

The institute will enhance the delivery of personalized medicine by assembling and supporting UAB researchers and clinicians in an interdisciplinary program aimed at discovering new knowledge in fields such as cardiovascular disease, transplantation, cancer, diabetes, infectious diseases, immunology and the neurosciences.

The Hugh Kaul Foundation, established in 1991, supports worthy cultural, educational and civic endeavors in Birmingham and Alabama. The foundation previously has given nearly $9 million to UAB, including the lead gift for the Hugh Kaul Human Genetics Building, home to an interdisciplinary group of faculty focused on performing basic laboratory and clinical research, patient care, and state-of-the-art genetic testing.

“The university is extremely grateful to the Kaul Foundation for its continuing support of UAB and our community,” said Shirley Salloway Kahn, Ph.D., senior vice president for Development, Alumni and External Relations. “The foundation’s generous support has enabled UAB to become a leader in biomedical research, allowing UAB to recruit the best and brightest physician-scientists to UAB and Alabama.” 

The Kaul Foundation gift will enable UAB to retain faculty, recruit new physicians and scientists, and build an administrative infrastructure to facilitate more federal and private research grants. Educating physicians, trainees and the broader biomedical community, including bioethicists, will build partnerships, advance the concept of personalized medicine and improve the overall health of the population.

“The institute will enhance the management of patients in large populations, creating a research framework based on genomic information that will allow us to ask questions regarding racial and ethnic disparities, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurosciences, and other areas, and expand our translational capacity for genomic discovery,” said interim director Nita Limdi, Pharm.D., Ph.D. “This program will continually differentiate us from our local and regional peers and make us a national player in the development of new treatment therapies based on our understanding of the human genome.”

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