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$10 Million Gift for Life Sciences Graduates

Driskill Foundation gift to medical school will help support innovative young scientists

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December 13, 2011 | by Marla Paul

CHICAGO --- Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has received a $10 million gift from the Walter S. and Lucienne Driskill Foundation to endow and name the Walter S. and Lucienne Driskill Graduate Training Program in Life Sciences.

The gift will support graduate student training in the life sciences at Feinberg with particular, but not exclusive, emphasis on recruiting superb and highly competitive candidates for the medical scientist training program leading to a dual MD-Ph.D. degree pursuing training in basic or clinical research.

“This generous gift from the Driskill Foundation will have a deep impact on the pace of scientific discovery at Feinberg,” said Eric Neilson, MD, vice president for medical affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean at Northwestern’s Feinberg School. “Doctoral candidates are among the medical school’s most promising investigators, and with our life sciences faculty, have made tremendous strides in understanding fundamental causes of disease. This gift will help ensure our graduate students have one of the most enriching and productive training experiences in the country.”

“It is apparent the vital medical advances in diagnosis, treatment and cure will require new generations of highly trained and motivated researchers,” said Ronald Barnard, executive director of the Driskill Foundation. “The work of continuing important research falls on new entrants to the field of basic research and the translation of that work to clinical applications. The Driskill Foundation believes it can contribute to the training of those coming up through the ranks, so we are delighted to have the opportunity to help Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine provide this essential training.”

Driskill Scholars will train with graduate program faculty in a wide range of areas across the University, including cancer biology, cell biology, chemical biology, drug discovery, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, genetics, genomics, medicine biology, immunology, microbial pathogenesis, neurobiology, pharmacology, structural biology, biochemistry, behavioral sciences, preventive medicine, epidemiology, health outcomes, quality improvement and translational sciences.

Walter Driskill and his wife, Lucienne, established the Driskill Foundation. The Great Depression made a deep impression on Walter Driskill, who, as a teenager, sometimes went barefoot because his family couldn’t afford to buy him shoes. This and other challenging experiences drove him to excel in all aspects of his life—as a college football player, a World War II Navy war hero and an entrepreneur in the beer importing business.

Grateful for their success, Driskill and his wife created the Walter S. and Lucienne Driskill Foundation in 1986 to advance medical research as well as develop programs for abused and orphaned children. Driskill died of cancer in 1998 and Lucienne Driskill passed away in 2009, and the board of directors makes sure the good works of the foundation continue around the country and at Feinberg. In 2010, the division of hematology/oncology at Feinberg received a $5 million commitment from the foundation for the establishment of the Walter S. and Lucienne Driskill Immunotherapy Research Program and Fellowship Fund. The division of rheumatology also received a $975,000 gift to support fellowship training.
Topics: University