December 13, 2022

Reflecting on the first anniversary of the Heersink gift

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This fall, we passed the one-year anniversary of our medical school becoming a named school.

I believe the gift signifies great trust in all we are doing. It also serves as an illustration of the hard work, dedication, and perseverance by our people that influence our UAB community and surrounding communities.

Since receiving the historic gift of $95 million from Dr. Marnix E. Heersink and his family, its impact has multiplied.

We have already seen numerous gains as it advances strategic growth, increases our global footprint, propels biomedical innovation, and encourages more philanthropy from medical school supporters.

To date, we have been able to recruit new research faculty, retain several faculty, creating new endowments for faculty, and establishing two new institutes.

The recruitment and retention of top-tier scientists and clinicians is crucial to grow our programs. There is equal importance for recruiting seasoned investigators and physicians, as well as young, early career investigators and physicians. Both bring value to the institution. The Heersink gift offers protected time for specific research—a benefit that elevates us competitively as an Academic Medical Center.

Regarding retention, part of the Heersink gift has been used for endowments, which offer a tremendous opportunity for faculty. These endowments live at a school level, faculty members have access to nomination no matter their appointed department.

The Heersink gift has also resulted in the proud creation of two new institutes, the Marnix E. Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation and the Mary Heersink Institute for Global Health, which have both gained incredible momentum in only a year.

Led by Alan Tita, M.D., Ph.D, Mary Heersink Endowed Chair of Global Health and associate dean for Global and Women's Health, and Lynn Matthews, M.D., associate director for Research and Partnerships, the institute focuses on health challenges across the world, specifically complex problems linked to inequity and health disparities. In addition, the Mary Heersink Institute for Global Health Endowed Support Fund has been created. And a new education program at the graduate level was established earlier this year.

The Marnix E. Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation, led by Rubin Pillay, Ph.D., assistant dean for Global Health Innovation and chief innovation officer of the UAB Health System, focuses on entrepreneurial health care innovation initiatives. Pillay and his team facilitate unique approaches to health care and socioeconomic transformation. A Marnix E. Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation Endowed Support Fund has been created and the Marnix E. Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation Conference Center is being developed in the new Altec-Styslinger Genomic and Data Sciences building.

The milestones generated by the Heersink gift contribute to our pursuit of excellence in each mission area. These accomplishments spill over into the community, creating economic opportunities and health equity in Alabama and beyond. Scaling up helps us serve more groups and break down barriers to care.

With the momentum we have made in only a year, I am excited to see more benefits and positive outcomes of the generous Heersink gift as we move forward.

Get to know the Heersink family and learn more about the process of receiving the naming gift here.