Record donation of $ 95 million from Heersink to advance strategic growth and biomedical innovation.
In recognition of a transformational lead gift of $ 95 million from longtime University of Alabama at Birmingham supporter Marnix E. Heersink, MD, the UAB School of Medicine will now be named UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine.
The record-breaking donation is the largest philanthropic commitment in the history of the university and will name the UAB Marnix E. Heersink Faculty of Medicine, as well as the creation and name of the Marnix E. Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation and Mary Heersink Institute for Global Health. The donation will provide support with both endowment and direct funds for key initiatives of the School of Medicine.
Renowned eye surgeon, innovator and entrepreneur Heersink wants this donation to inspire and catalyze additional philanthropic contributions that support high impact recruitments, programs and research at the Faculty of Medicine. UAB will bolster this philanthropic support with a generous $ 5 million contribution from Triton Health Systems, bringing total support to the school to $ 100 million.
UAB Senior Vice President of Medicine and Dean of Medicine Selwyn Vickers, MD, FACS, says the Heersink gift and others he inspires will set the future direction of the medical school.
“On behalf of the School of Medicine and all of the people we serve across Alabama, the nation and the world – now and in the years to come – I sincerely thank Dr. Heersink,” said Vickers. “This act of immense generosity reflects his sense of service and the breadth of our shared ambition to make the UAB School of Medicine a world leader in biomedical discovery and innovation, medical training and patient care. patients. It is a powerful affirmation of the limitless potential of our school and reinforces what we have always known: that UAB is truly a world class institution.
In just five years, the UAB School of Medicine has increased its National Institutes of Health research portfolio by $ 100 million, making it one of eight schools across the country to do so. This growth catapulted the NIH ranking for the School of Medicine from No.31 in 2014 to No.21 among all schools and the top 10 for public medical schools. In addition, 12 departments ranked among the top 20.
Vickers says the generous pledge was a strategic decision by Heersink to invest in a medical school with a rapidly growing trajectory and increasing opportunities for transformative impact in scientific discovery, education, and clinical care. Additionally, this donation will support the school’s strategic growth and help recruit and retain the brightest scientists and physicians in priority areas such as precision medicine and pharmacogenomics, pulmonology, oncology, neurology. , disparities in health, immunology and others through endowed chairs and chairs – subject to subsequent approval by occupants proposed by the University of Alabama system board.
The pledge also aims to establish and name a unique new biomedical institute and associated support fund – the Marnix E. Heersink Institute of Biomedical Innovation and the Marnix E. Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation Endowed Support Fund – as well as the name of the conference center of the Marnix E. Heersink Institute for Biomedical Innovation. The institute will focus on entrepreneurial healthcare innovation initiatives that promote and facilitate healthcare and socio-economic transformation. The institute’s primary location will be at UAB, with a significant physical presence in Dothan, Alabama, the hometown of the Heersink family.
Heersink says UAB’s history of notable achievement and aggressive pursuit of excellence motivated him to partner with the school to advance their shared priorities. He attributes his affinity for the school to a set of qualities that he embodies which he calls the three Es: excellence, expansive and all-encompassing.
“I have seen that in everything they do, the school strives for excellence, strives to expand its reach and values collaboration and encompasses diverse backgrounds, voices and talents,” Heersink said. “This donation will build on the school’s tremendous momentum and strengthen its ability to innovate and achieve the three Es (excellence, expansive, global) in a very strategic way. I look forward to an ongoing partnership to support his life changing work. Mary and I are very grateful for the wonderful education UAB has given our family and we now look forward to UAB’s increased presence in our hometown of Dothan.
Naming the medical school has been a priority for Vickers and UAB President Ray L. Watts, MD; they point out that a donation of this magnitude confirms and strengthens the school’s worldwide reputation in a very powerful and public way.
“Having the Heersink name on the school is a powerful testament to its competitiveness among the best academic medical centers in the world, which is indeed the result of our focus on the three Es: excellence, expansive and all-encompassing.” , said Watts. “Dr. Heersink’s transformative support is essential to building our brand awareness and impact globally, and his humility and commitment to making the world a better place is inspiring. We will work diligently every day to honor his trust and trust. . “
Learn more about UAB Marnix E. Heersink Faculty of Medicine here.
Heersink says UAB and the School of Medicine have been instrumental in his family’s life. He and his wife, Mary Parks Heersink, have been married for 43 years and have six children: ophthalmologists Mila, a graduate of UAB medical school, and Sebastian, a graduate of MIT and Georgetown Medical School; Bayne, a dentist who graduated from the UAB School of Dentistry, including a two-year UAB prosthodontic fellowship; Damion, a US certified patent attorney who is currently training to be an intern at the Ochsner Health System in New Orleans; and twins Christiaan and Marius – both attended the Early Medical School Acceptance Program (EMSAP) and obtained a combined MD / MBA degree from UAB and are in residency in ophthalmology and family medicine respectively. The Heersinks’ daughter-in-law, Juanita Titrud Heersink, MD, was Ms. UAB in 2003, graduated from UAB Medical School and completed her Internal Medicine Residency at UAB.
The Heersinks are well-known philanthropists in Alabama and beyond, having made significant donations from their personal funds and through their family foundation. Previous donations and pledges to UAB include those aimed at renovating the atrium of Volker Hall at the School of Medicine and establishing the Heersink Family Active Learning Resource Center at Volker Hall, the Heersink Family Endowed Glaucoma Fellowship and the Heersink Family Foundation Scholarship Endowment in Optometry, among others.
The $ 95 million pledge also aims to establish and appoint the Mary Heersink Institute for Global Health and the Mary Heersink Institute for Global Health Endowed Support Fund, dedicated to the development and implementation of educational and mentoring programs as well. so many experience opportunities for interns and academics in global health.
The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees formally accepted the $ 95 million donation at its special meeting on September 28 and unanimously approved the UAB nomination Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine, Marnix E. Heersink Institute of Biomedical Innovation, Mary Heersink Institute for Global Health and other entities described in the grant agreement.
“We are proud that UAB has played an important role in the life of the Heersink family and has chosen to help advance the transformative trajectory of the School of Medicine,” said the Chancellor of the System. UA, Finis St. John. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, the University of Alabama system, and everyone we serve, I thank the Heersinks for their record-breaking donation, which will further strengthen our system-wide commitment to the excellence in teaching, research and service, and will expand our positive impact. in Alabama and beyond.
Dr Heersink is a cataract and laser refraction surgeon and co-owner and president of Eye Center South in Dothan, a practice he and John Fortin, MD, opened in 1980 and now has 12 offices in Alabama, in Florida and Georgia. Heersink and his family opened Health Center South, a 140,000 square foot state-of-the-art medical complex for physicians of all specialties in Dothan. Heersink is also the owner or agent of numerous other companies, including real estate companies and manufacturing entities in the United States and abroad. He is a member and member of several professional organizations, including the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the International College of Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is certified by the American Board of Eye Surgeons. Its professional memberships also include the Houston County Medical Society, the Alabama State Medical Association, the American Intraocular Implant Society, and the American Medical Association. He has a particular interest and training in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of cataracts as well as laser vision correction. Heersink is also the founder of the Eye Education Foundation, which organizes continuing education seminars every year in which physicians share their knowledge, experience and ideas. The seminary, accredited in many states, is in its 33rd year.
Mary Heersink sits on the UAB Medical School Visiting Council. She is also a member of the Advisory Board for the Masters Program in Global Health, a joint initiative of McMaster University in Canada, Maastricht University in the Netherlands, University of Manipal in India and University Thomassat in Thailand. After her 11-year-old son Damion nearly died from E. coli in the early 1990s, she wrote the book: “E. coli 0157: The True Story of a Mother’s Battle Against a Killer Microbe,” and has become a strong advocate for federal oversight and regulation. . She co-founded and serves on the board of directors of STOP Foodborne Illness, a national food safety organization. She also sits or has served on the boards of many nonprofit and civic organizations in the Dothan area, including the Girls Clubs of Dothan, Wiregrass Museum of Art, Houston Academy and Landmark Park.
An event will be planned at UAB to officially recognize and celebrate Heersinks and this transformational gift.
“The importance of this record-breaking donation to the Medical School, UAB, and the University of Alabama system cannot be overstated,” Watts said. “We look forward to celebrating the Heersinks, their generosity and the significant advances in research, medical education and healthcare that we will make together. “