Newswise — ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A $3 million gift from noted business and philanthropic leaders Leslie and Abigail Wexner will support the next generation of medical research trailblazers at the University of Michigan through grants from the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute.

The Wexner gift will establish two permanent Emerging Scholars berths for young clinician-scientists on the U-M Medical School faculty. The Emerging Scholars Program, one of the Taubman Institute’s most unique and innovative initiatives, provides $50,000-per-year grants to launch young physicians into the dual role of doctor and laboratory researcher.

Some of the most groundbreaking medical breakthroughs in recent years – such as the discovery of the cancer stem cells that cause metastasis – have come from the efforts of clinician-scientists to quickly translate basic science into viable therapies for the patients they treat. Removing financial barriers for those attempting to establish their laboratories and gain the credentials needed for traditional government funding will help keep the vital pipeline of medical research flowing.

“The Emerging Scholars Program is among the most visionary elements of the Taubman Institute,” said institute founder and chair A. Alfred Taubman. “I feel sure that it is paving the way for some of the most promising health science discoveries yet to come, and I am honored that my longtime friends Abigail and Les Wexner have joined me in this crucial endeavor.

“Their generosity to science is well known and we extend our deepest gratitude for their partnership and their unwavering faith in our mission.”The Wexners, who have philanthropic interests in Ohio and nationally, share Mr. Taubman’s passionate interest in promoting innovation in the medical and scientific arena. “We are thrilled to be able to support Alfred and the Institute in the critical, groundbreaking and inspiring work that they are accomplishing,” said Abigail Wexner. Mrs. Wexner also is a charter member of the institute’s Leadership Advisory Board, which was established in 2008.

The Wexner gift will advance the cause of medical science at the Taubman Institute, including the establishment of at least two Emerging Scholars grants in perpetuity. The new scholars will be appointed in honor of the Wexners, in recognition of this gift. Currently, there are 16 Emerging Scholars investigating new approaches to the treatment of a wide variety of diseases.

The Wexner gift is the inaugural contribution to the Taubman Institute’s Founder’s Circle, whose members will be recognized for outstanding investment in finding the cures of tomorrow.

“Like all Taubman Scholars, these young clinician-researchers are seeking treatments for the most serious medical and public health issues facing humankind – from Alzheimer’s disease and cancer to the growing epidemics of diabetes and obesity,” said Eva L. Feldman M.D., Ph.D., director of the Taubman Institute. “The Founder’s Circle is an avenue for philanthropists who wish to join Alfred Taubman in supporting such crucial research through our scientists’ eminence in their fields and worldwide network of colleagues.”

For more information on the Taubman Institute Founder’s Circle, please contact Maria Muller at 734.736.6249 or [email protected].

About the University of Michigan’s A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute

In 2007 Michigan businessman, philanthropist and noted patron of the arts A. Alfred Taubman provided the initial funds to establish the institute bearing his name at the University of Michigan Medical School. Its mission is to provide the university’s finest medical scientists the freedom, resources and collaborative environment they need to push the boundaries of medical discovery, to produce breakthroughs in cures to speed the development of effective treatment for some of the most devastating illnesses. Currently, more than 30 Taubman Scholars are advancing their research with the assistance of grants from the institute.