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A.O. Smith Foundation plants the seeds of cardiovascular research with major donation

June 03, 2013 College News - The A.O. Smith Foundation has made a substantial donation to the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) that will be invested in the encouraging research of young investigators in the Cardiovascular Center (CVC). The CVC will use this gift as a source of seed funding, so called because it cultivates the growth of scientific projects beginning in their earliest and most critical stages.

“The CVC is very grateful for the contribution from the A.O. Smith Foundation, which will be directed to support seed grants for early stage investigators,” said Allen W. Cowley, Jr., PhD, the James J. Smith and Catherine Welsch Smith Professor in Physiology, the Harry & Gertrude Hack Term Professor in Physiology, and Professor and Chairman of Physiology, who has directed the CVC for the last four years. “This support is of real meaning to the career advancement of promising investigators who require preliminary feasibility studies in order to apply for sustained funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Financial support for pilot studies is difficult to obtain. Requests for these funds are carefully scrutinized, and the recipients have advisory committees who mentor and advise these scientists in the optimal use of these precious resources and time.”

Seed grants are used in a variety of ways depending on the specific needs of the investigator and may include support for needed supplies or equipment, or for needed technical support for pilot studies.

“The MCW Cardiovascular Center has experienced an estimated average return of $50 in federal funds for every $1 raised from private sources,” said John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, MCW President and CEO. “In recognizing the great potential in our institution and faculty, the A.O. Smith Foundation is helping us develop the next generation of tools and treatments for heart disease.”

Daisy Sahoo, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, is a cardiovascular researcher whose work has advanced through private philanthropy. She used a seed grant to obtain preliminary results in her investigation of how cholesterol levels can be lowered in order to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, particularly atherosclerosis. The data was compelling enough to earn her a $1.9 million grant from the NIH to support her study over five years.

Dr. Sahoo is one of more than 200 physicians and scientists who, as members of the CVC, are dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by cardiovascular disease, which continues to be the No. 1 killer in the United States. In Wisconsin, heart disease was responsible for nearly 11,000 deaths in 2009, and stroke was implicated in 2,500 more.

Based in Milwaukee, A.O. Smith is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of residential and commercial water heating equipment and a global leader in applying innovative technology and energy-efficient solutions to products. The A.O. Smith Foundation was founded in 1955 to support charitable, educational, scientific, literary and civic organizations, especially in communities where A.O. Smith Corporation has facilities.

“Cardiovascular disease is so pervasive; we need more effective solutions,” said Roger S. Smith, Director of Community Affairs for the A.O. Smith Foundation. “We are motivated by the prospect of research supported by the A.O. Smith Foundation leading to improved therapies and even cures for patients and their families.”

The Foundation has been a significant contributor to MCW through the years, particularly in the area of cardiovascular research.

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Page Updated 07/23/2013