McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster University receives Canada's largest cash gift

Support given to medical education, research and care

Published: December 17, 2003

Canadian businessman and philanthropist Michael G. DeGroote has given $105 million to McMaster University in an unprecedented display of generosity.

McMaster's medical school will be the beneficiary of the largest single cash gift in Canadian history. In tribute, the School of Medicine will now be known as the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University, the first Canadian medical school to bear the name of a benefactor.

Mr. DeGroote, formerly of the Hamilton area but now residing in Bermuda, said that his nearly 20-year friendship with the University reflects his belief in and support of McMaster's vision and its commitment to quality education and outstanding research. Earlier gifts have benefited the business school, the McMaster Museum of Art, epilepsy research, literary criticism and the new student centre.

"This gift is intended to support health care research and education," said Mr. DeGroote. "Health and health care are clearly the most prominent concerns for Canadians. I am investing in new discoveries in health care and in the delivery of health care. The dividends of that investment will not only impact our community, but others around the world. I am confident of McMaster's ability to maximize the impact of this gift so that its net effect will have far-reaching benefits."

A noted entrepreneur, Mr. DeGroote purchased and grew Laidlaw Transport Ltd., a company that became the largest school bus operator and third largest waste management company in North America before it was sold in 1988. Mr. DeGroote's business ventures have included U.S. companies such as Republic Industries, AutoNation Inc., Century Business Services, Capital Environmental Resource Inc., and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.

McMaster University President Peter George said he is honoured by Mr. DeGroote's endorsement and support for the University.

"This is an historic gift," he said. "It is not only a landmark for McMaster and the Hamilton community, but for all of Canada. I am profoundly grateful for this magnificent investment in our work and vision. Be assured that we at McMaster take seriously the great responsibility to ensure that we continue to advance our standard of excellence in education, research and innovation."

Dr. John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences, said the gift allows the University to take immediate steps in furthering a bold and ground-breaking vision for the School of Medicine.

"The DeGroote family will be proud of the impact this gift will have and will know that they will make many critically important initiatives possible," he said.

He said the $105 million donation will be divided between a $64 million endowment fund, supporting education, health care and medical research in perpetuity and a $41 million capital fund directed to construction and outfitting of laboratories and hospital units.

The endowed fund of $64 million will be allocated as follows:

  • $35 million will be directed to the establishment of three centres, all priority initiatives of worldwide interest. Each centre will have an internationally recognized leader in an endowed professorial chair who will build an exceptional team of scientists and caregivers.
  • The $15 million Centre for Research, Education and Care in Pain with a special focus on thalamic pain. Dr. Akbar Panju, a professor of medicine and the chief of medicine for Hamilton Health Sciences, has been recommended to lead the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care. As interim director he will recruit the finest researchers and clinicians seeking to revolutionize the way pain is treated and managed.
  • The $10 million Centre for Research, Education and Care in Cancer, with a particular focus on the molecular determinants of cancer.
  • The $10 million Centre for Research, Education and Care in Infectious Diseases.
  • $25 million will create the Michael G. DeGroote Faculty of Health Sciences Development fund. It will enable McMaster to attract the best health sciences researchers, physicians and teachers.
  • $4 million will be directed to two immediate priorities with the establishment of:
  • An endowed chair in stroke prevention and treatment.
  • The Medard DeGroote Chair in Medicine, an endowed chair named after Mr. DeGroote's father. The recommended chairholder is Dr. Akbar Panju.

The gift of $41 million will be designated toward capital expenditures with:

  • $26 million directed to the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning & Discovery, currently under construction. This multi-disciplinary, 300,000-square-foot building combines state-of-the art classroom space, research laboratories, hospital units and faculty offices. When it opens in 2004, the centre will host faculty investigating new ways of learning as well as McMaster's Institute for Molecular Medicine and Health, which recently made innovative steps in the development of the SARS vaccine.
  • $5 million directed to the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care that will provide appropriate facilities for a team of researchers and clinicians to revolutionize the way pain is treated and managed.
  • $10 million dedicated to the Michael G. DeGroote Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Located on the second floor of the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning & Discovery, it will be connected to patient units of Hamilton Health Sciences with an enclosed pedestrian bridge to the McMaster University Medical Centre.

The gift from Mr. DeGroote and his family will give McMaster's School of Medicine the greatest launching pad ever provided for the exploration of medical education, care and research, said Dr. Kelton.

"This opportunity is too great, too unique for us not to be bold in seizing it, but we will also be prudent in ensuring its impact. We will make Mr. DeGroote proud of his commitment."

The medical school currently has 410 undergraduate medical students and 490 medical residents.

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