Medical College of Wisconsin Receives Gift From Generac Founders Drs. Robert and Patricia Kern
May 26 - Drs. Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern have given The Medical College of Wisconsin a $10 million gift, the largest single private gift in the school’s history, to develop an innovation center that will advance biomedical research, education and collaboration to benefit the entire southeastern Wisconsin region for years to come.
Mass spectrometers are highly sensitive pieces of equipment used to identify changes in biologically important molecules that can cause or cure diseases, including cancer, stroke and heart disease. Advances in mass spectrometry will help Medical College scientists to improve diagnosis and monitoring of treatments in patients, as well as to understand the basic molecular and cellular mechanisms that are changed in diseases so that new therapeutic options can quickly become available to residents of our region and beyond.
“This is a truly transformative gift for the Medical College,” says College President and CEO T. Michael Bolger, JD “We are extremely grateful for the opportunity the Kerns have given us to become a premier destination for mass spectrometry development, application and education.”
“The Medical College is the premier educational and research medical facility in southeastern Wisconsin, and it seemed like a portion of our philanthropy efforts should be devoted to this particularly strong program,” says Dr. Robert Kern.
“Investing locally is important as well, since it helps move the region forward, and the cooperative efforts with other Milwaukee institutions of higher education also made the project stand out,” adds Dr. Patricia Kern.
The Kerns’ gift will advance the Medical College’s mass spectrometry capabilities through acquisition of new technologies and talent to create a regional research and training resource that supports scientific innovation. It will, in part, create a mass spectrometry facility, housed in the College’s Translational and Biomedical Research Center, which will unite campus mass spectrometry technologies and resources for participating researchers. These vast resources will be used to advance biomedical research, promote innovation in technology development and train a new generation of talented engineering students to work in the life sciences.
“This remarkable gift from the Kerns will support innovation and technology development that can help people,” says Andrew S. Greene, PhD, professor of physiology and director of the College’s Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center. “By creating a new center that brings together basic scientists, physicians, and students we will create exciting new technologies and applications for mass spectrometry that have direct clinical applications and take advantage of our strengths in the basic medical sciences and our colleagues’ strengths in the physical sciences.”
As part of the gift, the Medial College will also recruit leading scientists from around the world who will work in the center on the development and application of these sophisticated technologies. “This opportunity to assemble a world class group of scientists dedicated to advancing research in technology will have benefits not only for the College, but for the entire community,” says Dr. Greene.
The Kerns have been strong supporters of education in Milwaukee since 1959, when they founded the company that would grow to become Generac Power Systems. Generac is one of the world’s largest independent manufacturers of complete engine-driven generator systems.
They also established the Kern Family Foundation in 1998, a private, independent grant-making organization based in Waukesha, Wis. The foundation seeks to enrich the lives of others by promoting strong pastoral leadership, educational excellence and high quality, entrepreneurial engineering talent.