$3M gift funds cell research in Rockford

Funds for a research center were announced for the College of Medicine at Rockford.

By Cynthia Hall

A $3 million gift from a Rockford-area philanthropy will help fund a multidisciplinary center for cell regeneration research at the College of Medicine at Rockford.

The gift from the CWB Foundation, combined with matching university funds, will also be used for two named professorships to direct the research program.

“The center could yield cures or pioneering innovation that will enhance quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries, lost limbs or debilitating diseases,” said University President Bob Easter. “It will bring in top researchers who will partner with our experts in medicine, technology and other fields to pursue breakthroughs to improve the lives of people with disabilities.”

The center will also train clinicians, students and scientists on the science of regenerative medicine.

“We are committed to this endeavor which could lead to an improved quality of life, something we all strive to achieve for ourselves and our community members,” said Mark Blazer, CWB Foundation board member. “I am excited to see what is to come.”

The foundation was established by the late Cedric Blazer, president of Zenith Cutter Co. and a leading Rockford philanthropist. It supports projects to benefit people with disabilities, as well as other local organizations.

“The interface between and among disciplines, and the promise this approach will bring towards greater solutions to the challenges faced by persons with disabilities, is what we are here to celebrate today,” said Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares at the Jan. 29 announcement of the gift at the Rockford campus.

The College of Medicine will recruit two scientists for named professorships to direct the research programs: the Cedric W. Blazer Professor for cell regeneration research and the Michael A. Werckle Professor.

“This key gift provides the impetus for amazing research and development at the College,” said Martin Lipsky, regional dean at Rockford, adding that additional funds will be sought for the center’s programs.

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