A. O. Smith Family's Legacy of Support

Family is at the heart of A. O. Smith's 34-year support of MCW and its Cardiovascular Center (CVC). (Established in 1992, MCW's Cardiovascular Center focuses on improving cardiovascular health in Southeast Wisconsin and beyond.)

Lloyd B. (Ted) Smith, former A. O. Smith Corporation chair and CEO, joined the MCW Board of Trustees in 1972 because he saw the value the institution brought to the community and state. Soon after, he co-chaired a committee that raised $17 million to move MCW from its downtown location to the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center campus. Two of his sons, Bruce and Roger Smith, now run the A. O. Smith Foundation and continue to support and stay involved with MCW as a way to honor their father's efforts. They have directed much of that support to the Cardiovascular Center in the hopes of finding a cure for what killed both of their parents.

Roger and Bruce Smith
(l-r) Roger Smith and his brother, Bruce Smith, visit the cardiovascular research laboratory of Dr. David Gutterman at the Medical College of Wisconsin. A plaque commemorating the A. O. Smith Foundation's support hangs outside the entry door to the lab.

"Bruce and I, like our Dad, are very impressed with the extensive value the Medical College of Wisconsin brings to the community in terms of research produced and new ideas generated – and it is important to us to follow in his tradition," says Roger Smith, Foundation board member. "Both my Dad and Mom had heart attacks, and we target the CVC to help find cures for heart disease, which impacts so many people and so many families."

The CVC is housed in part of the building constructed through their father's support.

New building for MCW in 1994
L.B. Smith raised money to help construct a new building for MCW. (shown here upon completion)

A significant area of interest for the A. O. Smith Foundation is the Cardiovascular Center Board of Directors Seed Funds program. Seed funding is used by investigators during the earliest stages of scientific research and helps pay for laboratory supplies, specialized equipment and the staff time needed to gather initial data that serve as the basis for competitive grant applications for long-term funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or other extramural funding agencies.

Most recently, the A. O. Smith Foundation awarded a five-year grant to help create the A. O. Smith Fellowship Scholars Program. This unique program is designed to support talented cardiovascular researchers and physicians in an innovative educational program that aims to provide mentoring, training, research support and the necessary resources to overcome the barriers that exist to launching and sustaining a successful research career.

"We are pleased to be able to support this groundbreaking educational program," says Bruce Smith, president of the A. O. Smith Foundation and new chair of the CVC Advisory Board. "Serving as a CVC board member, I have had the opportunity to hear firsthand from the doctors doing outstanding original research on heart and vascular disease. Many of these projects result in important findings, which are translated into everyday medical practice to heal and keep us healthy."


CVC Breakthroughs and Milestones

CVC named a Specialized Center for Research on Hypertension by the American Heart Association – one of only four in the US

One of the 20 medical schools in US to receive funding from the NIH's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Discovered substances produced by brain cells to trigger growth of new blood vessels – an important clue in how the brain combats the effects of stroke

Mentored more than 220 postdoctoral trainees in the last decade

Discovered critical link between kidney blood flow regulation and development of high blood pressure

Developed techniques used during/after surgery, resulting in nation's best outcomes for a form of pediatric heart defect

Home to 16 physicians named Best Doctors in America®

"We are extremely grateful to the A. O. Smith Foundation for its long-term support of the CVC."
– Ivor J. Benjamin, MD, director, MCW Cardiovascular Center

The A. O. Smith Foundation also funded the purchase of "Lucy," named after Ted Smith's wife. "Lucy" is an Agilent Technologies Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometer (LC/MS), a sophisticated piece of test equipment that analyzes a large range of chemical compounds in biological samples. "Lucy" recently was retired after decades of service assisting researchers from many MCW departments.

"We continue to value the research being conducted at MCW to develop new drugs and new procedures to help save lives," adds Roger Smith.

– Anthony Braza

MCW Magazine: Philanthropy story

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