MIAMI, Oct. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Immune tolerance leader Alberto Pugliese, M.D., was presented with the J. Enloe and Eugenia J. Dodson Chair in Diabetes Research during a ceremony at the Diabetes Research Institute (DiabetesResearch.org) on October 13, 2016. Pugliese is a professor in the Department of Medicine/Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and Deputy Director for Immune Tolerance Research at the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.
"Helping to cure and prevent type 1 diabetes through research has always been my career goal," Pugliese said to a packed room of friends, family, and colleagues. "I have been learning from all of you. It's been a remarkable journey in knowledge, and it's helping us get closer to the solution." After thanking his wife, daughter, and mother, who were in attendance, Pugliese poignantly dedicated the tribute to his late father.
"To be awarded an endowed chair is a very high honor, and we could not be more pleased that it's being bestowed upon Dr. Alberto Pugliese," said Joshua W. Rednik, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation (DRIF), the non-profit organization whose sole mission is to provide funding to the Diabetes Research Institute, and the University of Miami's largest overall donor. "It's clear that Dr. Pugliese has the respect and admiration of his peers, within the DRI, and beyond its borders."
The DRIF endowed this chair as a result of a substantial $35.6 million gift from the estate of the late Mrs. Eugenia J. Dodson of Coral Gables. Nearly $25 million was given to the DRIF, while Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine received the remaining funds. In addition to the chair, the DRIF created the J. Enloe and Eugenia J. Dodson Diabetes Center for Translational Research at the DRI to help fund scientific initiatives in cutting-edge areas, including immune tolerance, which is Pugliese's area of specialty.
According to Donald E. Kubit, of Fowler White Burnett P.A. who served as her attorney and co-trustee of her revocable trust, Dodson lived a modest lifestyle because she had a higher purpose for her wealth. After her husband's death, she invested her money and allowed the investments to grow into a small fortune over 50 years.
"Gene lived a truly selfless life so she could fulfill her philanthropic goals," said Kubit at the time the donation was given. Kubit was instrumental in facilitating the gifts to the DRIF and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. "Eugenia Dodson's final estate plan was consistent with her profound desire to fund research to find a cure for diabetes and cancer."
"Few stories are more inspiring than that of Mrs. Dodson. Her support of the Diabetes Research Institute and the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center has had a critical impact in cure-focused research into these debilitating diseases," said University of Miami President Julio Frenk. "I am very pleased to be here as we celebrate the installation of a new chair holder, which is truly one of the most prestigious academic tributes in higher education."
"Alberto Pugliese is a connector. He's always putting patients and a cure at the center of all decision-making. Alberto is a remarkable individual," said Camillo Ricordi, M.D., Stacy Joy Goodman Professor of Surgery, Distinguished Professor of Medicine, professor of biomedical engineering, microbiology, and immunology, and Director of the Diabetes Research Institute. Ricordi also thanked Pugliese for being a great "friend and collaborator."
Pugliese is dedicated to advancing type 1 diabetes research through scientific excellence, open collaboration, and the training of new investigators. For the last 25 years, he has studied type 1 diabetes from the preclinical period to the clinical diagnosis, and afterwards, in the setting of transplantation. His research has provided seminal contributions in type 1 diabetes genetics, immunology, pathology, and clinical trials. Since 2001, Pugliese has been a steering committee member of the Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet, a National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trial network, for which he has chaired several committees and initiatives. He is also Executive Co-Director of the JDRF Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors (nPOD), along with Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., American Diabetes Association Eminent Scholar for Diabetes Research and professor of the departments of Pathology and Pediatrics at the University of Florida.
The endowed chair will help support Pugliese and his research in the area of immune tolerance, which was spotlighted during the inaugural Lindsey Inserra-Hughes Immune Tolerance Seminar Series at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Several leaders in the field were in attendance, including respected peers like Atkinson, Paul Bollyky, M.D., Ph.D., of Stanford University, Helena Reijonen, Ph.D., and Bart Roep, M.D., Ph.D., of the City of Hope in Los Angeles, and Thomas Malek, Ph.D., Ricordi, and Jay S. Skyler, M.D., of the DRI. This event, along with the presentation of the chair, underscores the Diabetes Research Institute and Foundation's focus on the immunology/immune tolerance issues related to type 1 diabetes.
As the largest and most comprehensive research center dedicated to curing diabetes, the DRI is aggressively working to develop a biological cure by restoring natural insulin production and normalizing blood sugar levels without imposing other risks. For more information, please visit DiabetesResearch.org or call 800-321-3437.
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SOURCE Diabetes Research Institute Foundation