Northwestern Memorial receives $20 million commitment toward emerging clinical research
Northwestern Memorial Hospital announced today that Suzanne S. and Wesley M. Dixon, longtime hospital benefactors and community philanthropists, have committed $20 million in support of Enhancing our lives: The Northwestern Memorial Campaign, and have established the Dixon Translational Research Fund. The gift represents the largest contribution for a single program in hospital history. It will fund clinical translational research, or the critically essential function of converting scientific discoveries into practical applications to improve human health.
“We are grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Dixon for this very significant contribution to and their continued support of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Their extraordinary generosity will help strengthen our partnership with Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine by funding innovative therapeutic treatments and diagnostic technologies for our patients,” said Dean M. Harrison, president and chief executive officer of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare. “Through this gift, Sue and Wes have created a lasting legacy at Northwestern Memorial and in Chicago for future generations of scientific and medical investigators.”
Many scientific discoveries originate in laboratories, or at the bench, from collaboration between scientists, and also with clinical physicians working with patients at the bedside. At the bench, scientists examine the development and progression of diseases at the cellular or molecular levels and then execute various theories as a result of these observations. This evolutionary process advances or translates into real-life clinical applications for patients at the bedside. This progression from bench-to-bedside is known as translational research.
“We believe strongly in Northwestern Memorial’s commitment to its patients through the advancement of leading-edge research. We are pleased to be able to provide the needed funding to help establish an enduring link across all areas of health research at Northwestern Memorial,” said Wes Dixon.
“Philanthropy is vitally important to Northwestern Memorial and we are grateful to Sue and Wes for this very special gift as well as their foresight and commitment to helping advance Northwestern Memorial’s prominence in this emerging area of research,” said James M. Denny, chairman, Northwestern Memorial Foundation and co-chair, Enhancing our lives: The Northwestern Memorial Campaign.
Through the establishment of the Dixon Translational Research Fund, the scientific review committee of the hospital’s foundation will be renamed the Dixon Translational Research Council. This council will define and recommend areas of emphasis for clinical translational research funded by Northwestern Memorial Foundation and Dixon Translational Research Fund; ensure the scientific quality and integrity of the review and award process for grant prospects; and develop standards, protocols and criteria to measure grant performance.
Existing Translational Research at Northwestern Memorial
In partnership with Northwestern University, Northwestern Memorial Hospital has been the recipient of National Institutes of Health funding for translational research since 1961 through the hospital’s Clinical Research Center. Today, Northwestern Memorial with the faculty of the Feinberg School of Medicine conduct translational research in virtually every medical specialty, ranging from novel treatments of fertility preservation and spinal cord injury, to leading national cancer and cardiovascular disease therapy trials. The funding from the Dixon Translational Research fund will be critical to advance key projects that take advantage of our programmatic strengths.
“With the establishment of the Dixon Translational Research Fund we are ensuring that the financial resources are now consistently available,” said Charles M. Watts, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “This gift opens up many opportunities for us to expand our work in so many emerging areas including genetics, functional imaging and regenerative medicine.”
Dixon Family Has a Strong History of Giving
Sue and Wes Dixon’s first gift dates back to the early 1960s when they supported the consolidation of Wesley Memorial and Passavant hospitals into what is now known as Northwestern Memorial Hospital. In 1991, through a $5 million gift, they established the Suzanne and Wesley Dixon Center of Orthopaedics. Since then, they have provided additional financial contributions to Northwestern Memorial’s orthopaedics and oncology programs’ annual giving initiatives. In addition, the John G. Searle Charitable Trust through the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust has also provided substantial support.
For more than 40 years, Sue Dixon has been an active hospital volunteer, serving on The Woman's Board and as its president. She is also a former director of Northwestern Memorial Corporation and served as co-chair of the Campaign for Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which successfully exceeded its fundraising goal by raising $126 million for capital and program funds. She now serves as a life trustee of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and was the first female trustee named to Northwestern University’s Board of Trustees.
In addition to the ongoing philanthropy and personal involvement, the Dixons and Dixon family members have provided more than 100 years of support to Northwestern Memorial and its predecessor hospitals. In fact, Wes’ great-grandfather, Arthur Dixon, was actively involved in Wesley Memorial Hospital as one of its first board members from 1899-1917. Subsequent family members followed as members of the hospital’s board.
As well, Sue Dixon's mother, Frances L. Searle, was a member of the Passavant Woman's Board from 1950-1980. The Searle family has also been longtime benefactors of Northwestern Memorial throughout the years.