General Corporation gives MU $1 million to support work of dementia research by scientist

Friday, March 11, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – General Corporation of Charleston today announced a gift of $1 million to Marshall University for establishment of the Maier Clinical Research Professorship at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

The gift, announced during a news conference at Station Place in Charleston, is being made in honor of General Corporation President Ed Maier and will support research in the area of dementia. The donation will be matched through the state’s “Bucks for Brains” West Virginia Research Trust Fund.

“I am very humbled to be honored in this manner,” Maier said. “The ‘Bucks for Brains’ program instituted by the West Virginia State Legislature is a compelling reason for our company to give back to my alma mater.”

Sally Maier Rowe, corporate secretary with General Corporation, said the Maier family is grateful to Ed Maier for his selfless leadership of the family companies for 42 years.

“Since his graduation from college, his entire professional career has ensured that the companies flourish,” Rowe said. “It is fitting that we honor him with a gift to his alma mater, Marshall University, within the state where he has lived and worked.”

Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp proudly accepted the gift from General Corporation while praising the Maier family.

“The Maiers personify the gold standard for leadership and philanthropy,” Kopp said. “The endowed professorship recognizing this significant gift will serve as a perpetual tribute to Ed, the entire Maier family and General Corporation. Marshall University is proud and honored to accept this gift, which is dedicated to advancing promising, interdisciplinary researchers working in the field of dementia with the goal of eventually preventing this debilitating brain condition.”

The professorship will support the work of a biomedical/clinical scientist in the School of Medicine engaged in dementia research. This support will foster research dedicated to investigating the cause or causes of dementia, improving the clinical management, treatment and therapeutic outcomes for present and future generations of people who are at risk or are already suffering with dementia.

“The Maier family has a rich tradition in philanthropic giving,” said Dr. Ron Area, CEO of the Marshall University Foundation Inc. “We greatly appreciate their generosity in presenting Marshall University with this gift that we hope will help make dementia a thing of the past for future generations.”

Dr. Kevin W. Yingling, chair of Marshall’s Department of Internal Medicine and dean of the university’s new School of Pharmacy, said the focus of the professorship will be research to better define the causes and to better treat patients who suffer from dementia.

“Dementia is a terrible illness that robs years of full life experience from patients,” Yingling said. “Treatment options are extremely limited; at best, they slow the progression of the disease. Dementia remains an enigma, and we have not begun to touch how to prevent it. There is enormous opportunity for discovering key components of its underlying mechanisms that could provide the impetus for therapeutic breakthroughs. Our research emphasis will be interdisciplinary to draw on the expertise of the whole university, and it will be translational, geared toward moving discoveries from the laboratory to patient care.”

Dr. Charles H. McKown Jr., Marshall’s vice president for health sciences and medical school dean, said the gift is both timely and a good fit for Marshall’s capabilities.

“This huge charitable and humanitarian effort by the Maier family comes at a time when the burden of dementia is rapidly growing in West Virginia and when the accelerated pace of biomedical discovery makes it likely the gift will lead to meaningful breakthroughs in preventing dementia or treating it,” he said. “Those breakthroughs will need to be evaluated, and with its extensive patient network including rural areas, Marshall is ideally positioned to do the clinical evaluations authenticating successful projects while guaranteeing patient safety.”

Yingling said a committee, which includes Ed Maier, will provide guidance on recruiting the professor or professors.

The West Virginia Research Trust Fund was established in 2008 to serve as a catalyst for economic development across the state. The trust fund program allows Marshall to double private gifts that support expansions to research faculty and infrastructure in key areas linked to economic development, health care and job growth.

Including today’s announcement, private gifts to date combined with the state’s match bring Marshall’s current total for the trust fund program to just over $5.1 million to be used for investments in research at the university.

The West Virginia Legislature initially appropriated $15 million in the trust fund for Marshall. Qualifying private gifts to the university are matched dollar for dollar by the state’s fund. For more information about the trust fund, visit or call the Marshall University Foundation at 304-696-5407 or toll free at 866-632-5386.