The University of Southern California has announced a $20 million gift from the Gehr Family Foundation to its Keck School of Medicine in support of research into pre-leukemic diseases and efforts to improve healthcare delivery.
The gift will support the work of two doctors whose patient, Norbert Gehr, wished to support their research as part of his legacy. Gehr was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) two years ago and died in February at the age of 74. Casey O'Connell, a hematologist at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, will use the funds to conduct translational research into blood diseases such as myelodysplastic syndromes, which can lead to leukemia.
Internist David Goldstein, chief of the Division of Geriatric, Hospital, Palliative and General Internal Medicine and vice chair for clinical affairs in the school's Department of Medicine, said the funds will be used to create a Center for Implementation Science that will coordinate efforts across USC to improve patient care in a scientifically rigorous manner. Goldstein's research areas include practical methods for improving delivery of health care through a coordinated, team-based approach.
Gehr, founder and CEO of the Gehr Group, was eager to help other patients with blood cancers, even though he wouldn't live to see the benefits of the research, said David Lifschitz, Gehr's longtime friend and current CEO of the Gehr Group.
"It was a privilege to care for Norbert Gehr for some thirty years," said Goldstein. "Not only was he a corporate giant, he was a leader with great optimism and compassion. He demonstrated great loyalty to his colleagues and employees. Mr. Gehr was much more than a generous philanthropist; he shared his generosity of spirit to all who met him. The Gehr Foundation's gift will provide an enduring impact on healthcare delivery in its support of innovative medical interventions."