KANSAS CITY, KAN. The largest gift ever for the Kansas University Medical Center will create a new center for brain research, the first step in a plan to make Kansas City a nationally recognized center of biomedical research.
The $7 million contribution was a gift from a Texas couple, both 1956 KU graduates. The donors are Forrest Hoglund, who stepped down as chairman and CEO of Enron Oil & Gas Co. in 1999, and his wife, Sally.
"The Brain Imaging Center can make good inroads into children's diseases, Parkinson's disease and a wide variety of other health-related areas," Forrest Hoglund said. "The center can also become self-supporting over time, so this was a good opportunity to provide the seed money to get it started."
Of the donation, $4 million will finance construction and startup of the Hoglund Brain Imaging Center, to be located just north of the Med Center campus here. The Hoglunds will designate other projects at KUMC for the remaining $3 million at a later date.
The imaging center will house state-of-the-art machinery to produce computerized images of internal body tissues using the nuclear magnetic resonance of atoms within the body induced by the application of radio waves.
It will be only the third center in the United States that can scan the brain of a fetus within the uterus.
Magnetic resonance imaging also enables doctors to measure the amount of iron in a brain, said Dr. Michael Welch, vice chancellor for research at the Med Center. A high level of iron in the brain is a symptom of Parkinson's disease, a degenerative disease of later life.
Welch, an internationally recognized expert in imaging research, will lead the center for the next year until a permanent director is found.
KU officials expect the center to be a selling point for receiving grant money from the National Institutes of Health.
"When you have this kind of facility, it equips you to be competitive," Chancellor Robert Hemenway said.
Gaining NIH and private funds is part of the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute Inc.'s goal to lift investment in basic biomedical research to $500 million a year by 2010. The institute is the umbrella organization working to make Kansas City a world-class hub of biomedical research.
The center already has received a $1 million appropriation for the spring from the Kansas Legislature to buy equipment.
Forrest Hoglund led Campaign Kansas and is the leader of a new capital campaign expected to raise $500 million for the Kansas University Endowment Association. That campaign is expected to be formally announced in fall 2001.
"We want our gift to serve as an example to others," Hoglund said.
The baseball stadium on the KU's Lawrence campus is named after the Hoglunds, who financed its renovation. Forrest Hoglund received a letter for playing on the KU baseball team.
Construction of the Hoglund Brain Imaging Center should be completed by fall 2002.