MU medical school announces $6 million donation

Thursday, March 20, 2008 | 7:17 p.m. CDT; updated 4:48 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Margaret Proctor Mulligan donated $6 million to the MU School of Medicine, which will endow more faculty positions than any other gift in the university's history.

COLUMBIA — The MU School of Medicine on Thursday announced a major donation from Margaret Proctor Mulligan that will endow more faculty positions than any other gift in the university’s history.

The donation of $6 million was left in the estate of Margaret Proctor Mulligan, a Columbia resident who has been donating to MU since 1998. Mulligan was noted as an active woman until her death in 2007 at 97 years old.

Margaret Proctor Mulligan professors

Paul Dale

Chief of surgical oncology at MU and director of the Margaret Proctor Mulligan Breast Health and Research Program Research area Dale is skilled at minimally invasive surgical techniques and collaborates with engineers and other scientists on campus to improve cancer detection and treatment for patients.

George Davis

Member of department of medical pharmacology and physiology Davis’ research examines both breast cancer and cardiovascular disease by studying the development of new blood vessels. Davis studies how to control tumor cell movement and invasion at a molecular level.

Dongsheng Duan

Member of the department of molecular microbiology and immunology Duan studies the molecular mechanisms involved in inherited and acquired heart diseases. He has generated mouse models that resemble human disease and help in his studies to produce effective gene therapies.

Kattesh Katti

Director at MU’s National Cancer Institute Nanotechnology Platform and a senior research scientist with MU’s Nuclear Research Reactor Katti is known for developing gold nanoparticles that can detect breast cancer and other forms of cancer at earlier stages than current methods.

Gerald Meininger

Director of MU’s Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center and a member of the department of medical pharmacology and physiology Meininger conducts cellular-level studies on how the tiniest blood vessels contribute to heart health and disease.

M. Sharon Stack

Vice chair for research with department of pathology and anatomical sciences Stack’s research focuses on tumor development and ways to prevent cancer cells from spreading to healthy cells. Source: MU School of Medicine

There is enough money to endow more than 10 faculty research positions.

MU Provost Brian Foster expressed gratitude for her contribution.

“She left a landmark legacy, and we’re proud to receive this gift,” he said. “This will make an impact on MU’s ability to save lives.”

Mulligan was a breast cancer survivor and lost her father to a heart attack, so she required that her donation be used strictly for research in the fields of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death among Americans.

According to a news release from the medical school, Mulligan was born in Ashland in 1910 to Micajah and Martha Proctor and moved to Columbia at the age of 10. In Columbia, she was an advertising manager at the Columbia Daily Tribune, managed retail stores and, eventually, joined her father’s real estate business. She remained active in real estate after her father’s death.

Although the estate gift was set prior to her death, Rich Gleba, spokesman for the School of Medicine, said that she was never looking for recognition.

“She didn’t want to recognize the amount of her estate gift during her life,” he said. “She was a humble lady and was never looking for praise.”

So far, six professors have been named as recipients of her endowment.

“The selection was based on their area of expertise in breast cancer and cardiovascular research,” Gleba said. “It is given to the elite faculty at the university.”

One such faculty member is Dongsheng Duan, whose research focuses on the molecular mechanisms involved in heart disease.

“We’re really honored and pleased with the support in moving on in our research,” Duan said, adding that the gift could help raise MU’s research profile.

“Hopefully this will lead to further funding on a national level,” Duan said.

The gift comes at a time of limited federal funding for such research,” said M. Sharon Stack, whose research on tumor development will be supported by the Mulligan endowment.

“The endowment in general shows great vision from Mrs. Mulligan and her family, especially in a time where federal funding for research is difficult to have access to, especially when trying to plan experiments that are high risk and high gain,” Stack said.

In addition to the recent donation, Mulligan helped fund the Margaret Proctor Mulligan Breast Health and Research Program at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. That program was unveiled in 2005.

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