BIG NEWS: UAB School of Medicine receives $100M gift

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UAB in Birmingham, AL. Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

There’s HUGE news for the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) School of Medicine. It just received $100M—the largest philanthropic gift ever in its history. Read on to find out who’s behind the astounding pledge and how it’s helping UAB continue its journey as a global leader.

Who’s behind the pledge?

The answer is Dr. Marnix Heersink, renowned eye surgeon, innovator, entrepreneur and longtime UAB supporter.

During a special meeting on Tuesday, September 28, Heersink’s gift of $95M to UAB’s School of Medicine was formally accepted by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees.

Wait, didn’t we originally say $100M was donated? UAB added an extra donation to the pot—$5M from Triton Health Systems. This brings the grand total to $100M.

“I have seen that, in all it does, the school strives for excellence, works to expand its reach and values collaboration and encompassing diverse backgrounds, voices and talents. This gift will build on the school’s tremendous momentum and enhance its ability to innovate and deliver on the three E’s (excellence, expansive, encompassing) in a very strategic way.”

Dr. Marnix Heersink

Changes to come

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(L) Mary Heersink; (R) Marnix Heersink. Photo via UAB

The gift will lead to many significant changes for UAB.

  • UAB School of Medicine will don a new name: UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine. It will also establish and name the Marnix Institute of Biomedical Innovation and the Mary Heersink Institute for Global Health.
  • It will provide support with both endowed and outright funds for key initiatives of the school of medicine.
  • It will help the school’s strategic growth and allow them to recruit and retain the brightest scientists and physicians in priority areas, including: precision medicine and pharmacogenomics, pulmonary, oncology, neurology, health disparities, immunology and others through endowed chairs and professorships.

The pledge also intends to establish and name a new, first-of-its-kind biomedical institute and conference center. Its focus will be on entrepreneurial health care innovation initiatives that foster and facilitate health care and socioeconomic transformation.

While the institute’s primary location will be in Birmingham, it will also have a prominent physical presence in Dothan—the Heersink family’s hometown.

“On behalf of the School of Medicine and all the people we serve across Alabama, the nation and the world—now and in the years to come—I sincerely thank Dr. Heersink.

This act of tremendous generosity reflects his heart for service and the scale of our shared ambition for the UAB School of Medicine to be a global leader in biomedical discovery and innovation, medical training and patient care.

It is a powerful affirmation of the unlimited potential of our school and reinforces what we have always known: that UAB truly is a world-class institution.”

Selwyn Vickers, M.D., FACS, UAB Senior Vice President of Medicine and Dean of the School of Medicine

Moving up in rank

UAB has become increasingly well known over the past few years. In just five years, UAB School of Medicine grew its national portfolio by $100M. This makes it one of eight schools in the country to do so.

This also vastly boosted the school’s NIH ranking from No. 31 in 2014 to No. 21 among all schools and the top 10 for public medical schools. 12 of its departments also now rank among the top 20.

Congrats to UAB for this incredible gift!

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Patience Itson
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