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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 29, 2009

UPDATE: Since this news release was originally distributed, the institute named in recognition of the Pappajohns’ gift is now officially called the Pappajohn Biomedical Institute.

Pappajohns' $26.4 million gift will name UI biomedical research institute

University of Iowa President Sally Mason announced today a $26.4 million gift commitment from longtime UI benefactors John and Mary Pappajohn of Des Moines -- the largest single gift commitment ever for the UI from individual Iowa donors -- and said it will provide the university's new interdisciplinary institute for biomedical discovery with "the catalyst it needs to reach its full potential."

In recognition of the Pappajohns' gift, the institute will be named the Pappajohn Biomedical Institute, and the building that houses it the John and Mary Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building. The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, approved the naming of the institute and the building at its meeting today in Cedar Falls.

The Pappajohns' most recent gift for the UI, among the largest gift commitments ever received by the UI Foundation, brings their total cumulative giving for the UI to $38.6 million.

"The University of Iowa is deeply grateful to John and Mary Pappajohn for this historic gift. Our relationship with the Pappajohns is based not only on their generosity, but also -- and perhaps more importantly -- on their vision," Mason said. "In an age when the university is reinventing itself in response to the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century, John and Mary Pappajohn are leaders in helping the UI advance research and education in service to our changing society.

"The Pappajohn Biomedical Institute and John and Mary Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building will be the centerpieces of Iowa's innovative discoveries in the life sciences, providing transformative approaches to health care, unprecedented educational opportunities and unique possibilities for economic development," Mason continued. "We thank the Pappajohns for their generous role in making the University of Iowa an even more remarkable institution."

The Pappajohn Biomedical Institute will provide, in a single facility, a unique environment in which a broad spectrum of university researchers and scientists can collaborate to explore high-risk, high-yield research opportunities in the life sciences. The 200,000-square-foot, six-story facility, located next to the Carver Biomedical Research Building on the UI health sciences campus, will house laboratories and office space dedicated to leading-edge, cross-disciplinary research involving scientists from across the entire campus. The building is part of a larger university effort to bring together scientists from multiple disciplines to pursue biomedical research leading to new treatments for patients, create new educational opportunities for students and bolster Iowa's economy through new jobs and business partnerships.

"This institute at Iowa offers tremendous hope for significant advances in several crucial areas of biomedical research," John Pappajohn said. "In addition, this world-class research enterprise will provide the state with promising economic development opportunities, and it will help put Iowa and the UI 'on the map' and receive due credit for their well-earned reputations.

"Mary and I are especially inspired by the institute's collaborative, entrepreneurial and university-wide dimensions. It's our conviction that the prospects for strong returns on philanthropic investment in this institute are excellent," Pappajohn added. "And those who stand to gain the most from the institute's performance will be generations of patients nationwide and around the world."

The institute was created and is being built in partnership with the UI's academic medical center comprising the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics, the State of Iowa, the federal government and private contributors.

"The extraordinary generosity of John and Mary Pappajohn is matched only by their superb ability to identify and foster unique opportunities that will bring about positive change in Iowa and the world," said UI Vice President for Medical Affairs Jean E. Robillard (photo, right). "Their creative vision for advancing biomedical research opens tremendous new possibilities for discovery that promise to change medicine and the lives of people everywhere."

Michael Welsh, M.D., whom Mason named founding director of the UI Institute for Biomedical Discovery in March 2009, said that the Pappajohn Biomedical Institute would involve scientists from across the entire UI campus and is part of a larger university effort to bring together scientists from multiple disciplines to pursue research leading to new treatments for patients.

"This landmark gift from the Pappajohns will go far in helping us recruit outstanding scientific leaders to head the institute's areas of primary focus, including neurosciences, diabetes and other areas," said Welsh (photo, left), who is professor of internal medicine, molecular physiology and biophysics and neurosurgery, holds the Roy J. Carver Chair in Internal Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics, is director of the UI Cystic Fibrosis Research Center and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. "Just one example of the stellar interdisciplinary efforts that the Pappajohn Institute will house is the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center, which also is being made possible by extraordinary private support."

John Pappajohn, a well-known Iowa venture capitalist and philanthropist, and his wife, Mary, are among the university's most generous supporters. He graduated from the UI in 1952 with a bachelor's degree in business and since 1969 has been the owner of Pappajohn Capital Resources. He also is the founder and president of the financial consulting firm Equity Dynamics Inc. Mary Pappajohn received her bachelor's degree in related art from the University of Minnesota, and she and John long have been supporters and proponents of the visual arts, and volunteers for leading arts organizations. Mary serves as a trustee of both the Des Moines Art Center and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

The Pappajohn Business Building, which houses the UI's Henry B. Tippie College of Business, is named for the Pappajohns. Their philanthropy for the UI's academic medical center also has led to the naming of the Pappajohn Pavilion at UI Hospitals and Clinics and the John and Mary Pappajohn Clinical Cancer Center.

A member of the UI Foundation board of directors since 1989, and a member of the University of Iowa Presidents Club, which recognizes the UI's most generous contributors, John Pappajohn in 1996 made a $10 million gift creating the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Centers at the UI and at four other Iowa colleges and universities. In 2004 he bolstered support for those centers with another $4 million gift and has continued to fund them.

The Pappajohns also have provided significant private gift support for several other UI areas, including Hawkeye athletics, Hancher Auditorium, the Pomerantz Career Center, the UI Museum of Art, UI Libraries, and various initiatives in the Tippie College of Business.

"John and Mary Pappajohn are among those rare individuals who use their philanthropy to improve quality of life in the broadest sense," said Lynette L. Marshall, president and CEO of the UI Foundation, "whether the quality they seek to enhance is in health care, the arts or economic development. Here on the University of Iowa campus and throughout the state, John and Mary have demonstrated their commitment to Iowa and Iowans. Through their gifts and by their example, they challenge us always to think bigger, aim higher and never accept less than the best. We are truly blessed to count them among our most generous benefactors and friends."

The UI acknowledges the UI Foundation as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university. For more information about the foundation, visit its web site at

PHOTOS:  High-resolution and Web-ready photos are available:

John and Mary Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building:

* View 1:
High resolution:

* View 2:
High resolution:

John and Mary Pappajohn:


UI President Sally Mason (high-resolution and Web-ready, through Flickr):

UI VP for Medical Affairs Jean E. Robillard:


Pappajohn Institute Director Michael Welsh, M.D.:


UI Foundation President and CEO Lynette L. Marshall:


STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Foundation, P.O. Box 4550, Iowa City, Iowa 52244-4550

MEDIA CONTACT: Susan Shullaw, senior vice president-strategic communications, UI Foundation,, 319-467-3861