Tuesday, June 26, 2012

$1 million gift to benefit KU Medical Center

By ANDY HYLAND, The Lawrence Journal-World

A donor has expanded his giving to Kansas University, supporting a new $1 million Kathleen M. Osborn Chair in Molecular and Integrative Biology at KU Medical Center in memory of his late daughter.

Dale Seuferling, president of KU Endowment, said the donor, Jim Osborn of Honolulu, wanted to honor his daughter, who died during her junior year at the University of Missouri in a car accident in 1970.

As an undergraduate student in the summers of 1968 and 1969, she worked in the reproductive physiology lab of Gilbert Greenwald at the KU School of Medicine. Seuferling said that was the Osborn family’s main connection to KU.

Jim Osborn felt that experience was very meaningful to his daughter, Seuferling said, and felt that it may have inspired her to pursue a career in science later in life.

“This was one way to remember her and have something positive to come out of that tragic death,” Seuferling said.

Jim Osborn and his wife, Marion, also established a lectureship at KUMC to honor their daughter in 1972. After his wife’s death in 2004, Jim Osborn established the Marion M. Osborn Professorship for Reproductive Science at KU’s medical school.

“He felt very good about the results of those previous gifts, and felt very good about wanting to see this chairmanship established in his lifetime, rather than see it through his estate, which is what he had originally planned,” Seuferling said.

Paul Cheney, professor and chairman of the department of molecular and integrative physiology at KUMC, will be the first recipient of the chairmanship honoring Osborn’s daughter. His research focuses on brain control of movement and neurological disease associated with HIV/AIDS.

“Jim Osborn is my hero,” Cheney said. “His generosity has been amazing and we’re so appreciative.”

The new chairmanship will support a salary enhancement for the recipient along with other research support. The gift will count toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, KU Endowment’s ongoing comprehensive fundraising campaign.