Cain Foundation donates $50,000 for tuberculosis research to UT Health Center’s Dr. Peter Barnes

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Effie and Wofford Cain Foundation has donated $50,000 to The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler to support research in tuberculosis.

James Cain, a trustee of the foundation, personally presented the gift to Peter Barnes, MD, professor of microbiology and immunology and director of the Center for Pulmonary and Infectious Disease Control at UTHSCT.

Over the past 10 years, the Cain Foundation has donated in excess of $1.9 million, said John Anderson, interim director of Institutional Advancement. The foundation has endowed the Margaret E. Byers Cain Chair for Tuberculosis Research and the Cain Foundation Endowment for Infectious Disease Research.

Cain, of Athens is well-known for his philanthropic work, having made substantial donations to the Cain Center in Athens, area hospitals, and public and private education causes in East Texas.

“The Health Center is indebted to Mr. Cain for his tremendous understanding of the need to fund tuberculosis research. As an institution, we have received state and national recognition for our efforts to eradicate TB. Advances in TB research made by UTHSCT researchers would not have been possible without private sector support such as that provided by Mr. Cain,” said UTHSCT President Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun.

The Margaret E. Byers Cain Chair for Tuberculosis Research is named in honor of Cain’s mother, who died of tuberculosis before the advent of effective TB therapy, said Dr. Barnes, the holder of the Cain Chair and the Cain Foundation Endowment.

“The provision of the Cain Chair was one of the factors that attracted me to the Health Center nine years ago. I am personally grateful to Mr. Cain for his continued support and generosity in helping us combat a disease that causes so much suffering, especially given that TB research has been underfunded for decades,” Dr. Barnes said.

“The National Institutes of Health currently funds only 10 percent of the proposals for TB research that are submitted annually. The support of the Cain Foundation has been critical in providing initial funding for new research ideas and in helping young faculty expand their research programs,” he said.

Tuberculosis is one of the leading causes of death from infectious diseases worldwide, causing 1.9 million deaths annually, primarily in developing countries, Dr. Barnes said. Elimination of TB depends on developing an effective vaccine and better anti-tuberculosis drugs.

“During the past 10 years, the Health Center has developed into a major center for tuberculosis research, with nine faculty members working on different aspects of vaccine and drug development. In today’s highly competitive funding environment, UTHSCT scientists investigating tuberculosis currently hold eight NIH grants totaling more than $8.2 million,” Dr. Barnes said.

Dr. Calhoun emphasized the importance of the tuberculosis research being conducted at UT Health Science Center.

“Health Center investigators have contributed to the substantial scientific progress that has been made in TB research during the past 10 years. This research has led to potential anti-tuberculosis drugs and vaccines that are now being tested,” Dr. Calhoun said.

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