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Billion Dollar Gift Boosts Biomed Research in Kansas City

May 18, 2001

With an eye toward helping to make Kansas City a leading center for biomedical research, James Stower Jr., founder of American Century mutual funds, and his wife are donating $1.114 billion to the Stowers Institute of Medical Research. The donation is considered one of the five largest philanthropic gifts in history. The Institute, opened last November after completion of the $200 million campus, is engaged in basic research toward long-term solutions for gene-based diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

Already employing four molecular biologists recruited from California, Utah, Texas and London, England, and their staff, the Stowers Institute plans to have more than 50 independent research programs when fully operational.

The success of the Stowers Institute plays heavily in the plans of local efforts to transform Kansas City into a national biomedical center. Building a strong local research capacity and presence in academic and nonprofit research institutions as well as private companies is widely recognized as a critical element to building tech-based economies. Local leaders see the Institute as being a critical element of their tech-based economic development plans.

In addition to its own scientific and technical staff and any commercialization resulting from technologies spun out of the Institute, the sheer size and national eminence of the Stowers Institute is expected to serve as a magnet for other biomedical research investments and biotech companies growth in the area.

The Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute, a not-for-profit organization founded jointly by the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City and the Kansas City Area Development Council, has been charged with implementing the community's three part life sciences strategy of:

  • strengthening and expanding research and development activity in five areas of specialization
  • supporting and developing educational programs that result in the preparation of more technologically advanced students 
  • implementing a system to support local commercialization of biomedical technologies

More information about the Stowers Institute can be found at http://www.stowers-institute.org

More information concerning the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute is available under "special features"at http://www.smartkc.com/index.htm