A gift to Emory and Atlanta

The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, Inc., the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation, and the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation, longtime friends of Emory, have established the Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Fund, Inc., which will provide at least $3 million a year to the Woodruff Health Sciences Center. Half of the annual income will support programs of the Winship Cancer Center, with $1.8 million earmarked for the year beginning this past fall.

The foundations jointly designated a portion of their Coca-Cola stock to be set aside to establish this new corporation. All dividend earnings will go to the Woodruff Health Sciences Center. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the value of this stock, as of August 9, 1996, was $295 million.

"This extraordinary initiative on the part of the foundations continues the philanthropic legacy of Robert W. Woodruff and the Whitehead family," said President William M. Chace. "It recognizes the many achievements of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center and will give the center an increased level of strength to build upon its internationally known programs."

Dr. Michael M. E. Johns, executive vice president and director of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, called the initiative "a gift to Atlanta as much as to Emory. It reaffirms the Woodruff Health Science Center's commitment to move to the leading tier of academic health sciences centers in the nation. As we do that--and as we become recognized worldwide as a leader in patient care, in public health, and in research--the city, not to mention the state and the region, will benefit every step of the way. Having been given much, we are going to give back even more, to Atlanta and to the future of medicine and health care."

The annual income from the new fund will supplement the $116.8 million in research awards the center received last year and more than $30 million in gifts it expects to receive from alumni and foundations this fiscal year. Johns believes the real significance of the new fund lies in the continued flexibility it will give the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, as it is expected to grow along with The Coca-Cola Company.

This "margin of excellence"--in the words of Johns--"will allow us to take advantage of opportunities and to pursue novel programs that can enrich our educational, research, and health care mission." Such a margin has never been needed more, he added, because academic health sciences centers are facing unprecedented challenges. Even though Woodruff Health Sciences Center researchers continue to show double-digit increases in funding, research dollars are increasingly scarce at the federal level and do not fund all the center's work. "It's ironic," Johns said, "that available research dollars are decreasing at the same time our scientists have in their grasp the information and tools to make ever-more significant discoveries related to health and disease. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center is poised for leadership in a whole new era of discovery and health care. We are grateful for the Woodruff Foundation's support. This money, well deployed, will have an impact far beyond its dollar value."

Charged with creating a plan each year for how to use the income to maximum effect, Johns already has brought together an advisory committee made up of the leadership of the Health Sciences Center. One of the first and most obvious benefits of the Woodruff Health Sciences Fund, Inc. will be a new impetus to the Winship Cancer Center's drive toward becoming Georgia's only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, providing Georgians and others in the region access to clinical trials and programs open only to such centers.

It is especially appropriate, as President Chace noted, that the Winship Cancer Center benefit from this initiative. One of Robert Woodruff's earliest gifts to Emory established the Winship Clinic for Neoplastic Diseases in 1937. The clinic--named for his maternal grandfather--was committed to a multidisciplinary approach and to patient care enhanced by research. It was the forerunner of today's Winship Cancer Center, which was founded in 1985 to bring together all of Emory's clinical and research programs in cancer. Today the Winship Cancer Center has the largest cancer treatment program and the most extensive program in cancer research in Georgia.

Since receiving a National Cancer Institute (NCI) planning grant, the center has completed an extensive renovation of its facilities to meet NCI standards and has been successful in recruiting the clinicians and researchers required for the scope of services necessary for NCI Cancer Center status.

"This is a great moment for Emory," said Vice President for Institutional Advancement William H. Fox '79Ph.D. "Besides providing wonderful support for the important work of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, it is also gratifying to see the confidence that the trustees of the foundations have placed in the current leadership of the University."--Sylvia Wrobel

Return to Winter 1997 contents page.

Return to Emory Magazine home page.