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Huge Gifts to Fund Medical Advances at 2 Universities

February 16, 2022

Large gifts to two universities will be used for advances in medicine.

A $104 million donation to Virginia Commonwealth University will support the development of a new institute for liver disease and metabolic health.

The gift, from R. Todd Stravitz, a clinical professor in the VCU School of Medicine’s department of internal medicine, and his family’s Barbara Brunckhorst Foundation, is the largest in VCU’s history and the largest publicly shared gift for liver research in U.S. history, according to a press release.

Publicly launched in December, the institute will expand research and treatment options for those with liver disease. The gift also establishes two endowed chairs and new degree programs at the VCU School of Medicine.

“The institute’s research will have an enormous impact on our lives, changing medicine and our understanding of the role the liver plays in human health,” said Michael Rao, president of VCU and VCU Health. “It allows us to bring together top teams to deliver clinical care, to ask important questions, develop new tools to explore what causes liver disease and how we stop it, prevent it and even reverse it. Most importantly, it will immediately make a difference in the lives of thousands of people with liver disease.”

The University of Iowa is the beneficiary of a $70 million gift from the Richard O. Jacobson Foundation to expand and improve patient care at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. The gift—the largest in the university’s 175-year history—will support a new building on UI Health Care’s main campus, allowing the system to increase patient capacity and update its facilities.

The late Jacobson was a student at UI’s business college who, during his lifetime or through his foundation, donated more than $86 million to the university.

“We are proud to serve Iowa with our state’s only comprehensive academic medical center, providing life-saving and life-changing care to people from across the state and beyond,” said UI president Barbara Wilson. “Richard Jacobson’s commitment to the UI was extraordinary, and this latest and very generous gift on his behalf will allow our exceptional health-care team to deliver the highest level of care to all Iowans.”

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Susan H. Greenberg

Susan H. Greenberg is a senior editor at Inside Higher Ed. A career journalist and educator, she joined the publication in August 2021 after eight years in Vermont, where she freelanced and taught writing at Middlebury College and Champlain College. Prior to that, she spent 22 years writing and editing for Newsweek magazine, where she covered everything from international affairs to arts and culture. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and River Teeth, among others. She has taught English and journalism at Phillips Academy, where she served as an advisor to the student newspaper. She holds a B.A. in English from Brown University and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia. The mother of three nearly adult children, she is very much enjoying her newly empty nest.

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