Business

Duke Gets $35 Million for Disease-Fighting Study

Posted September 24, 2007 12:46 p.m. EDT
Updated September 24, 2007 1:00 p.m. EDT

— Billionaire David Murdock on Monday gave $35 million to Duke University for for health research.

The gift, which officials said was the largest in history for Duke's School of Medicine, will fund studies to develop more comprehensive and effective approaches to fighting diseases.

"This research will reinvent how scientists prevent diseases and save lives," Murdock said in a statement.

The gift was announced at the North Carolina Research Campus, which the owner of Dole Food Co. Inc. is building in Kannapolis. Murdock and a host of Duke officials, including Duke President Richard Brodhead and Victor Dzau, chancellor for health affairs at Duke and chief executive officer of the Duke Medical Center, were at the presentation.

The Measurement to Understand Reclassification of Disease Cabarrus/Kannapolis (M.U.R.D.O.C.K.) study will involve translational research, which focuses on turning scientific discoveries into life science applications.

"Transformation has always been our mission at the research campus," Murdock said. "(This study) will establish the campus as the new destination for discovery."

Rob Califf, director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute, told the Independent Tribune in Kannapolis that plans for Duke’s commitment to the Research Campus are being finalized.

“It’s not just science for science’s sake,” Califf told the newspaper. “It’s taking findings and making them useful.”

Duke also was expected to spell out plans for its presence at the $1 billion project that is being built on the site of a former textile mill.

The University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University and several other universities are working with Murdoch on the project.

"I've always said that the minds aligned at the campus combined with our state-of-the-art equipment will produce breakthroughs that can change the world," Murdock said in a statement. "This announcement will demonstrate that the vision is becoming a reality."

Murdock also owns Castle & Cooke, which is developing the campus.