Baylor College of Medicine commemorated a significant philanthropic milestone in support from the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation, with more than $100 million in grant funding for key programs at the College.
The Alkek Foundation has helped make possible the establishment of Baylor’s leading clinical programs in medicine and ophthalmology, as well as fund novel research centers focused on metagenomics and microbiome research and molecular discovery.
Four decades of support
To recognize this remarkable contribution, Baylor recently hosted a scientific symposium highlighting the foundation and the Alkek Family’s continued support of the institution for more than 40 years.
“On behalf of the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation and the Alkek and Williams family, I want to thank the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine for participating in this special symposium,” said Margaret Alkek Williams, chair of the foundation and daughter of Albert and Margaret Alkek. “I am proud to know that our contributions continue to expand knowledge and improve the health and well-being of our community. My parents trusted Baylor College of Medicine to fulfill their vision for a better future. More than 100 million dollars later, I would say we have made a good start! May their compassion inspire tomorrow’s physician scientists and their philanthropy lead to future discoveries that touch lives around the world.”
“The Alkek Foundation has been incredibly supportive of Baylor College of Medicine for more than 40 years,” said Dr. Paul Klotman, president and CEO of Baylor and a trustee of the Foundation. “Much of the funding the Foundation has provided has made possible the innovative, novel research so important to scientific advancement. Baylor has been able to accomplish more because of that support.”
At the symposium, Klotman presented Margaret Alkek Williams with a special plaque in recognition of the foundation’s support.
The support of the Alkek family to Baylor started in the early 1970s with a friendship between oilman Albert Alkek and Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, the father of modern cardiovascular surgery and Baylor’s president at the time.
Alkek served on the Baylor College of Medicine Board of Trustees for 17 years.
Together with his wife, Margaret McFarland Alkek, Albert Alkek’s contributions to Baylor propelled Baylor to become a research power house in the 1980s and 90s.
“The Alkek Foundation provides the rocket fuel to help Baylor researchers take their research to new heights, keeping us at the cutting edge of biomedical research,” said Dr. Adam Kuspa, senior vice president for research at Baylor.
Baylor recognizes the Alkek Foundation’s support in the name of multiple buildings, departments and centers at the college including the Margaret M. and Albert B. Alkek Department of Medicine; the Margaret M. Alkek Distinguished Chair in Medicine currently held by Dr. Robert Todd; the Alkek Eye Center; Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research; Alkek Center for Molecular Discovery; the Alkek Award for Pilot Projects in Experimental Therapeutics; the Margaret M. and Albert B. Alkek Building; the Margaret M. Alkek Building for Biomedical Research and the Alkek Fountain.
The symposium highlighted research made possible by the foundation’s support and included presentations from:
Dr. Bert O’Malley, the Thomas C. Thompson Chair in Cell Biology and director of the Alkek Center for Molecular Discovery at Baylor. The Alkek Center for Molecular Discovery is focused on the application of advanced molecular biomic techniques for personalized diagnosis and treatment of human disease.
Dr. Miguel Cruz, associate professor in the Margaret M. and Albert B. Alkek Department of Medicine at Baylor. Cruz’s research focuses on a protein called A2 that has revolutionized the understanding of sustained systemic inflammation. Alkek Foundation funding has helped Cruz advance this research into landmark contributions to science and medicine.
Dr. Mauro Costa-Mattioli, associate professor of neuroscience. Costa-Mattioli has discovered key signaling pathways that are required for the formation of long-term memory. He is a recipient of an Alkek Award for Pilot Projects in Experimental Therapeutics, a college-wide seed fund to build Baylor expertise and capacity in target validation as well as in preclinical translational research focused on the development of promising therapeutic targets, devices or diagnostic tools.
Dr. Joseph Petrosino, associate professor of molecular virology and microbiology and director of the Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research at Baylor. The Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research is recognized internationally as a leader in metagenomics. The center focuses on exploring how the microbes that live on and in the human body impact health and disease.
Additional foundation trustees attending the symposium included Charles Williams, president of the foundation and a Baylor trustee, Randa Duncan Williams, Dr. Bobby Alford (distinguished service professor and former chair of the Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology at Baylor) Dan Arnold, Joe Bailey and Scott Seaman.