$7.5 million donation to fund biomedical research

The University of Miami received a $7.5 million donation to create the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute.

The institute will use the money, which is part of the Momentum2 campaign, to bring together researchers from the Miller School of Medicine, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Engineering to develop practical uses for biomedical nanotechnology.

Biomedical nanotechnology is a field in which scientists work with materials on a nanoscale. A nanoscale is less than one-millionth of a millimeter in size, and is used to diagnose and treat serious diseases, as it makes measurements more precise.

Several projects are already being developed for the institute. For instance, one is the invention of a filter that captures tumor cells circulating in the blood, another will devise “smart pills” that can detect glucose and release insulin when needed. A third will explore the use of nanotechnology to restore sight.

According to Ram Datar, a professor at the Miller School of Medicine who will be the co-director of the institute, nanotechnology is going to play an important role in medicine in the future.

“The field of medicine is expected to undergo a major change in five to 10 years with much greater emphasis on early detection, allowing for inexpensive and easier disease management,” he said.

The donation was made by the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation, which provides grants to health projects in Miami-Dade County. The foundation made two major gifts to the university during the first Momentum campaign, and has now given a total of $28 million to UM.

Junior Kayla Barry, who is majoring in psychology, feels that more research will further distinguish the school.

“Despite economically hard times, we still need to be progressing further and this is a great investment in the future,” she said.