Health Care

Hamon Charitable Foundation’s $10M gift supports Alzheimer’s research at UT Southwestern

A $10 million gift from the Hamon Charitable Foundation to UT Southwestern has established an endowment to support the new Laura and Jack Roach Center for Translational Research in Alzheimer’s Disease.

The Hamon Charitable Foundation gift will fuel translational research to move scientific discoveries with the potential for better ways to treat Alzheimer’s and delay its onset from the laboratory into clinical practice, a UT Southwestern press release stated.  Ninety percent of what is known about Alzheimer’s has been discovered over the past 20 years and UT Southwestern is working on a variety of scientific fronts to find more effective therapies.

“This magnificent gift from the Hamon Charitable Foundation will strengthen the infrastructure for translational research within the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute,” stated Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, president of UT Southwestern, in the press release. “Already, work at UT Southwestern is leading to promising new therapies for Alzheimer’s disease. A strengthened translational research program will bridge the gap between scientific discovery and clinical care and accelerate progression between today’s medical challenges and tomorrow’s cures.”

Translational researchers work closely with basic research scientists to identify promising new discoveries, then translate that knowledge to clinicians as they test the effectiveness of new treatments. Translational researchers also take new discoveries that develop through clinical trials back to scientists for further investigation.

“We’re hoping for a cure and that researchers can slow progression of the disease,” stated Kelly Roach, president of the foundation. “We believe $10 million will get us a step closer in the right direction. It’s a difficult disease to watch – they call it ‘the long goodbye.’ We hope other families don’t have to experience what we’re experiencing.”

The Hamon Charitable Foundation trustees created the endowment to honor the Roaches after Laura was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Jack, a practicing lawyer for 66 years, has served as an officer of the Hamon Charitable Foundation since its creation and as a proud trustee of Southwestern Medical Foundation for nearly 40 years.

The Roach family planted deep roots and emerged as a driving force to strengthen the Dallas community by supporting education and health care causes. Mr. Roach became a highly trusted counselor to many major philanthropists in Dallas, helping them distribute their funds to worthy causes. He worked closely with and became a faithful friend to Nancy B. Hamon, who established the Hamon Charitable Foundation in 1998. Hamon was a San Antonio native who worked in Hollywood during the 1940s, before returning to Texas and marrying legendary oilman Jake Hamon in 1949. She grew to be one of Dallas’ most generous philanthropists who supported education, arts, and health care causes.

This latest gift from the foundation boosts its total giving to support activities of the O’Donnell Brain Institute to $25 million, which includes an earlier gift of $15 million to support neuroimaging initiatives of the Advanced Imaging Research Center.

The foundation’s longtime support of UT Southwestern includes a $25 million donation to the Medical Center’s Fund for Molecular Research. Part of the gift – $15 million – established the Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research, the Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Center for Basic Research in Cancer, and two distinguished chairs in those fields. The remaining funds were used to help construct the Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Biomedical Research Building on the North Campus.

Other gifts include $10 million for the Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine; a $4 million challenge grant to launch a campaign to build the Bryan Williams, M.D. Student Center; $1 million to help establish the George N. Peters, M.D., Center for Breast Surgery; and $1 million for the William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital.

Photo: Laura and Jack Roach

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