Couple champions research for heart disease, other illnesses
Research leading to new treatments for disease is a keen interest of Lee Southard, PhD, and his wife, Marilyn, of Sanibel, Fla., especially heart disease. Heart problems have claimed the lives of family members on both sides of Dr. Southard’s family for the past four generations. In addition, the Southards’ 17-year-old granddaughter, Allie, underwent a heart transplant operation when she was 3 years old, after a virus attacked her heart.
To help advance promising research that may lead to effective treatments for heart disease and other illnesses, the couple has made a $100,000 planned gift to the Chairman’s Innovation Fund of Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute.
“Heart failure, in my opinion, is one of the biggest research needs we have in medicine,” says Dr. Southard, Chairman and CEO of VasoGenix Pharmaceuticals. “It is the No. 1 diagnosed disease in people over 65 and represents the greatest medical cost. It kills and debilitates more people than any other disease.”
The Southards say they believe in Cleveland Clinic’s quality and international reputation for medical care and research. “You always want to support the best,” Dr. Southard says.
A Passion for Medical Research
Paul DiCorleto, PhD, Chairman of the Lerner Research Institute and the holder of the Sherwin-Page Chair, expresses his appreciation for the Southards’ passion for medical research.
“Dr. Southard is an innovative scientist and entrepreneur and recognizes the value of supporting highly innovative and high-risk research,” Dr. DiCorleto says. “The Chairman’s Innovation Fund is critically important to launching new projects that require preliminary data so that they will be competitive later in applying for funding from the National Institutes of Health and other agencies. It supports high-impact, cutting-edge research, which is very exciting.”
Dr. DiCorleto and a Lerner Research Institute leadership team decide which projects to fund. “The Chairman’s Innovation Fund is not intended for projects that already have financial support, but for highly innovative, very promising, early stage research with high potential,” Dr. DiCorleto says. “It has to be clear that, if the early experiments work, the project will have a significant impact on healthcare.”
Dr. Southard says he admires the accomplishments of Cleveland Clinic researchers. “I like it when people are on the cutting edge of new developments and the work they do is not just pie-in-the-sky but application oriented. My belief is, ‘What good is science if it can’t be put to use?’”
This story originally appeared in the winter 2009/2010 issue of Catalyst.
To make a gift supporting Lerner Research Institute, the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute or any area of Cleveland Clinic, visit our secure online giving site, or call Institutional Relations and Development at 216.444.1245 or toll-free at 800.223.2273, ext. 41245.