CMU, Pitt among beneficiaries of late chemist's historic bequest
Millions of private dollars are arriving at the perfect time for researchers at Pennsylvania universities seeking to replace waning federal support, experts said.
The Pittsburgh Foundation on Thursday announced the first set of grants from the largest gift in its 68-year history. Nearly $1.6 million from the estate of Charles E. Kaufman will go to Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State, Drexel and Temple. Kaufman, a Pitt graduate and chemist who made much of his fortune after retirement, left the foundation $50 million upon his death in 2010. About $40 million will go to support “cutting edge” scientific research, the foundation said.
“Any one of these grants has the potential to significantly advance the frontiers of human knowledge,” said Grant Oliphant, president and CEO of the foundation.
Non-defense federal spending on research and development increased only slightly in the past decade — adjusted for inflation — to $65.1 billion in 2012 from $63.1 billion in 2002, according to the Association of American Universities.
“I would say these Kaufman Awards are coming at a timely point,” said Graham Hatfull, Eberly Family Professor of Biotechnology at Pitt and chair of the Kaufman Foundation's Scientific Advisory Board.
Veronica Hinman, Jonathan Minden, Bruce Alan Armitage and Danith H. Ly of CMU will receive $300,000 to explore why cells in some organisms regenerate a lost limb and others do not. Hinman said she wanted to do the project for many years but could not secure the funding.
“Now that we got this money, it will be full steam ahead,” she said.
The Kaufman Foundation established two categories for its awards. One provides $150,000 over two years for researchers who received their doctorate no more than seven years prior. Another rewards established researchers.
Barry Toiv, spokesman for the Association of American Universities in Washington, likes the focus on young researchers. He said the average age of principal investigators of grants from the National Institutes of Health has crept into the 40s.
“We don't know what we're missing when a lack of funding prevents us from getting the maximum benefit from those early and especially creative years,” he said.
When the Kaufman estate announced its gift and the formation of the Kaufman Foundation in January 2011, it said Kaufman had grand ideas for his wealth.
“The real transformation may happen 10, 20 or 30 years from now when one of these wins the Nobel Prize,” Oliphant said.
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- North Side roads closed to curb pre-concert problems
- Steelers nose tackle McCullers finds performance, fitness go hand in hand
- Hazelwood Towers resident hospitalized after fire
- Padres snap Pirates’ 7-game win streak
- Gorman: WPIAL trio triumphs over tragedy
- Paddleboard classes focus on fitness
- Point Park graduate’s ‘mugshot’ photos hit nerve on racism
- Pittsburgh roots shape former Md. governor’s outlook in run for president
- Pirates notebook: Burnett rediscovers vintage form
- Driver dies, students hurt in school van crash in Indiana County
- Steelers’ defense unfazed by noise, believes in potential