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Rockford Campus Gets $3 Million Gift To Study Cell Regeneration

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A transformational $3 million gift to the University of Illinois will help fund a multidisciplinary center for cell regeneration research at the College of Medicine at Rockford. The gift from the CWB Foundation, a Rockford-area philanthropy, combined with matching university funds, also will be used to create two named professorships to direct the research program.

Rockford Campus Gets 3 million gift to study Cell Regeneration

The gift was announced in January. The college will seek additional funds in support of the center's programs.

"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," says U of I President Robert 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 also will train clinicians, students and scientists in the study of regenerative medicine, a growing field that seeks to regenerate cells, tissues or organs in the laboratory for use in medical treatments.

"This endeavor could lead to an improved quality of life, something we all strive to achieve for ourselves and our community members," says Mark Blazer, CWB Foundation board member. "I am excited to see what is to come."

The CWB Foundation was established by Mark Blazer's father, the late Cedric W. Blazer, president of Zenith Cutter Co. and a leading Rockford philanthropist. The foundation supports projects that benefit people with disabilities, as well as other Rockford-area organizations.

One of the professorships being established by the gift will be named for Cedric W. Blazer. The other will be named for Michael A. Werckle, MD, an assistant clinical professor of family and community medicine at the College of Medicine at Rockford, longtime supporter of the college and personal friend of Cedric Blazer.

"This key gift provides the impetus for amazing research and development at the college," says Martin Lipsky, MD, recently retired regional dean at the College of Medicine at Rockford.

According to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 approximately 56.7 million people (18.7 percent) in the civilian, noninstitutionalized population in the U.S. had a disability, including 38.3 million people (12.6 percent) with a severe disability.