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Maier Foundation gift to launch major WVU Charleston research initiative

on Mon, 03/01/2010 - 08:00

The Maier Foundation has pledged $1 million to establish the William J. Maier, Jr. Chair of Research at West Virginia University’s Charleston Division School of Medicine. The gift is expected to be matched under the “Bucks for Brains” program with an additional $1 million from West Virginia Research Trust Fund, creating the largest endowment ever to advance biomedical research in the Kanawha Valley.
“The William J Maier Endowment will bring the WVU Charleston Division, in partnership with the Charleston Area Medical Center’s Health Research and Education Institute and our colleagues in Morgantown, to a higher level of achievement in health care research on issues affecting West Virginia communities,” said Dr. L. Clark Hansbarger, associate vice-president of the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center and dean of the WVU Charleston Division School of Medicine.    
The Charleston-based Maier Foundation, Inc. was established in 1958 by philanthropist William J. Maier, Jr. to further higher education in West Virginia. The gift is designed to meet the matching requirements established by the Research Trust to leverage public and private investments to support research and infrastructure projects linked to economic development, health care and job creation.
“The 'Bucks for Brains' matching grant component was a compelling aspect of the request from WVU,” said Ed Maier of the Maier Foundation. “This major gift for the Charleston Division of the WVU School of Medicine, which continues to do an outstanding job of fulfilling its mission for all of West Virginia, would not have happened now were it not for the matching funds from the State of West Virginia.”
West Virginia Governor Joe Machin, III, who proposed "Bucks for Brains" in his 2008 State of the State address, is pleased to see the collaborative initiative fulfilling its mission.
 “Thank you so much to the Maier family and the Maier Foundation for their generosity and investment in our Bucks for Brains program,” Manchin said. “The Maiers have shown time and again their commitment to West Virginia and its economic growth.“
The governor also commended WVU President James Clements and the WVU Charleston Division School of Medicine doctors for their diligent work in partnering with Maier Foundation.
“The state continues to expand its research capabilities because we have people who believe very strongly in what those investments will yield in return,” said the governor.
This endowment will fund a faculty position dedicated to basic, applied and transitional research projects.  Researchers look for ways to prevent and treat diseases, studying processes and diseases with the ultimate goal of developing effective treatments and cures, and evaluating these new treatments for both safety and efficacy.  Through its affiliation with Charleston Area Medical Center as its teaching hospital and research partner, WVU's Charleston Division School of Medicine benefits from a synergy of resources and cutting edge technologies in this effort.
“WVU is extremely grateful to the Maier Foundation for this gift, and to Governor Manchin and the Legislature for providing the matching grant that will allow us to create a $2 million endowment for Charleston research activities,” said Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., WVU chancellor for Health Sciences.  “This will provide a permanent base of support for academic research on the Charleston campus, and solidify the role of our faculty here as vital members of our academic health system.”
Hansbarger described the collaboration of public and private funding in this research advancement effort as a “New Year’s resolution” for those in academic medicine in the Kanawha Valley.
 “For the WVU Charleston Division, the name Maier has become synonymous with benefactor, infrastructure, cutting edge, future and academic,” Hansbarger said.  “Over the last 40 years the influence of William J. Maier and his son Ed Maier on health care education have been visible, palpable and essential.  From the concept of this Regional Medical Education Center in Charleston -- the first in the country -- through the building of the WVU-Charleston Health Education building, to today’s endowment of a research chair, the Maier Foundation has displayed their commitment to West Virginians again and again.”  
The gift was made through the WVU Foundation, a private non-profit corporation that generates and provides support for West Virginia University.