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January 16, 2001

Marcus Foundation gives
$4.5M for vascular research

By Sarah Goodwin

The Marcus Foundation of Atlanta will give $4.5 million over the next two years to establish the Marcus Chair in Vascular Medicine and the Marcus Vascular Research Fund in the School of Medicine.

“We are pleased to provide support for this important research,” said Bernard Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, who established the Marcus Foundation. “We look forward to timely advances in treatment of a number of life-threatening diseases and also to advances in wellness and disease prevention. The implications of successful discoveries in vascular health are significant and far-reaching. They will touch all our lives.”

These two funds will be critical elements of Emory’s Center for Vascular Diseases at Emory. They will fund innovative research in blood vessel diseases that is expected to have a major impact on many areas of human health and wellness.

Diseases of the arteries are ultimately the cause of death in at least half of all Americans. Diseases of large arteries, with their inherent risk of clot formation and multiple small strokes, are believed to cause more cases of dementia than Alzheimer’s.

In addition, more scientists are theorizing that many degenerative diseases and conditions, from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease to heart failure and impotence, are at least partly caused by diseases of the small blood vessels that ultimately deliver oxygen and nutrients and remove waste from every organ.

“This wonderful gift will establish an outstanding partnership between Emory and the Marcus Foundation,” said Michael Johns, executive vice president for health affairs. “Mr. Marcus’ vision encompasses discoveries which could increase longevity and improve quality of life for our present generation and for generations to come.”

The Center for Vascular Diseases builds on existing strengths in vascular research at Emory, including research concerning the production of oxygen free radicals.

These free radicals, produced inside blood vessel cells, stimulate mechanisms that attract inflammatory white cells, ultimately leading to disease and destruction of the artery. Other research initiatives are studying how to control cancer through reduction of the blood flow to cancer cells.

“The Center for Vascular Diseases will conduct further research to generate new understanding of the biology of blood vessel formation, regression and disease development,” said Wayne Alexander, chair of the Department of Medicine.

Researchers also will work to develop new drugs and/or new uses for existing drugs or natural products that will treat and prevent vascular disease, and they will explore new strategies for growing blood vessels to treat obstructive arterial disease or, in the case of cancer, to inhibit new blood vessel growth, depriving cancer cells of needed nutrition.


Back to Emory Report Jan. 16, 2001