August 1, 2003

VICC raises $1 million to meet Kresge challenge

Featured Image

Richard Caprioli, Ph.D.

VICC raises $1 million to meet Kresge challenge


The Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center has met the challenge — The Kresge Foundation’s “Science Initiative” Challenge, that is.

By the end of June, $1 million had been raised to support the complex instrumentation and super computing power that is helping to make Vanderbilt a leader in proteomics research.

The million-dollar-deadline was part of a Science Initiative award last year from The Kresge Foundation that included a $250,000 initial gift, plus an additional $250,000 in foundation support and $250,000 from an anonymous donor — if the challenge was met.

The study of the proteins — the “worker bees” of the cell that are produced at the instructions of our body’s genes — has been heralded as the next frontier in human biology now that the genome has been sequenced. Understanding what proteins are involved in both health and disease will be critical to the development of new “targeted” therapies for cancer and other diseases.

But the challenge is daunting. Each of the body’s 30,000 or so genes contain the instructions for one or more proteins, and these proteins can change in response to the environment and interact with one another in innumerable ways once they are produced.

“It takes incredibly complex — and expensive — equipment to measure the data and super computing power to tell us what that data mean,” said Richard Caprioli, Ph.D., Stanley Cohen Professor of Biochemistry and director of the Proteomics Core Facility.

The Science Initiative has already provided the most powerful tool available to measure proteins that are active in a cell at a given time, Caprioli said. The initial installment of The Kresge Foundation grant was combined with funding from the T.J. Martell Foundation, the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation and the National Institutes of Health to purchase an Applied Biosystems MALDI-“time of flight” mass spectrometer.

Equally important, the initiative provides an endowment so that funds will be readily available to maintain, update and expand Vanderbilt’s capability in the future.

“Vanderbilt is one of the few places in the world that is really leading the way in the field of proteomics,” said Orrin H. Ingram, president and CEO of Ingram Industries and chair of the VICC’s Board of Overseers. “We have the minds to do this incredible work. Thanks to The Kresge Foundation and the many others who helped us meet this challenge, now we have the resources the scientists need to make it happen.”

Ingram is one of three co-chairs, along with Frances Williams Preston and Alyne Massey, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s ongoing “Shape the Future” Campaign.

A mission of The Kresge Foundation is to provide funds to leverage new and additional support, and that mission was met through this challenge. More than 200 new donors participated in the Kresge Challenge, which provided an important opportunity to talk to new and existing donors about the crucial link between research in the laboratory and advances in patient care.

Vanderbilt also has received a $1 million grant from The Kresge Foundation to support construction of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Sebastian S. Kresge created The Kresge Foundation, an independent, private foundation, in 1924 “to promote the well-being of mankind.”