The goal of the Trust’s program in medical and scientific research is to provide support for innovative investigation that may hold great promise for advancing scientific knowledge and, in many cases, improving human health. To this end, the Trust has supported a variety of university-based scientific endeavors, most notably in the basic medical sciences, the chemical and biological sciences, and engineering. Although a majority of funding is awarded for the purpose of addressing institutional capital needs, a parallel focus of this program area is the research efforts of particular laboratories, often emphasizing multidisciplinary approaches and encouraging the development of untried, and inherently risky, specific aims.
In 2002, the largest grant in the history of the Trust was awarded to the University of Iowa to support the research enterprise within its College of Medicine. In recognition of that $63 million commitment, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, designated the official name of the College as the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. The benefactor of the Carver Trust, along with his widow, will have their names permanently associated with the institution that they began supporting through personal donations in the early 1970s. A centerpiece of the gift provided for the construction of the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver Biomedical Research Building, the home to then state-of-the-art laboratory facilities for interdisciplinary scientific study. Other components of the award focused on enhancing core research facilities, increasing the number of endowed chairs and professorships throughout the College, and supporting outstanding individual faculty research programs, which came to be known as Research Programs of Excellence. Since this transformational investment in the College, significant progress by these principal investigators has occurred in the study of heritable eye diseases, hematopoietic stem cell biology, protein deficiencies associated with childhood-onset neurodegenerative diseases, functional genomics of cardiovascular disease, and the role of free radical biology in cancer formation.
Furthermore, in 2016, a commitment of $45 million in Trust support was approved by the Carver Charitable Trust Board of Trustees to assist in establishing the Iowa Neuroscience Institute within the Carver College of Medicine. The Institute will serve as a cross-disciplinary research center for investigations into the many aspects of brain and nervous system function, and will coalesce key science faculty from across the University of Iowa campus into an influential core group with the potential to achieve dramatic outcomes in this emerging field of research over the next decade and beyond.
Roy J. Carver was an esteemed graduate of the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois, and, for that reason, the Trust has an interest in providing support for quality scientific programming undertaken at his alma mater. Substantial investments by the Trust have been granted to numerous scientists on the Urbana campus, whose research efforts may have important implications for advancing knowledge in areas ranging from microbial pathogenicity and ion transport to tissue regeneration. In addition, through a major commitment of Trust support, the University of Illinois Carver Biotechnology Center has established a bioinformatics research facility that serves scores of campus investigators, as well as other academic, governmental and corporate researchers nationwide, in high-throughput biochemical analyses for a variety of biomedical and scientific applications. Further, in 2000, the Trust established the Carver Graduate Fellows in Engineering program to support the graduate studies of particularly exceptional students pursuing advanced degrees in any major within the University of Illinois College of Engineering.
And at Iowa State University, a $7.5 million investment, approved in 2012, supports a multi-year initiative intended to substantially advance the burgeoning field of structural biology, with its many possible implications in understanding fundamental mechanisms of cell signaling. In acknowledgement of this award, and of previous gifts for research activities within the Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology at Iowa State, the Board of Regents renamed the Department to honor the philanthropic legacy of Mr. Carver; it is now known as the Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology.
Other support from the Trust awarded to Iowa State University extends to many scientific and engineering disciplines across the Ames campus. Funding is generally intended to assist in jumpstarting the careers of many innovative young scientists, often through providing funding for graduate student stipends, scientific instrumentation and various other laboratory needs. By furnishing this type of targeted support for those less-established investigators, the Trust finds opportunities to enhance the overall scientific research climate of the institution, while investing in the careers of scientists who hold great potential for eventually making remarkable contributions to their respective fields of study.