Heimlich Institute Gifts Half Million to Support Hoxworth
Published March 2010
The Hoxworth Center atrium recently spilled with well-wishers and admirers of Henry Heimlich, MD, noted Cincinnatian, inventor of the Heimlich maneuver and founder of the Heimlich Institute.
They gathered to witness the Deaconess Associations Foundation give a half-million dollars in the name of the Heimlich Institute to fund new research at Hoxworth Blood Center at UC.
The donation will aid in the development of new cellular treatments for patients. Heimlich, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday and was presented with a cake at the event, stood at the lectern and expressed his gratitude for the work being done at the blood center.
"Hoxworth and its researchers are well known in Cincinnati and just about everywhere,” he says. "They save and improve lives every day.”
Blood center researchers Jose Cancelas, MD, PhD, and Thomas Leemhuis, PhD, will primarily use the $500,000 gift to fund two projects: one looking at ways to eliminate cell damage in chemotherapy patients and the other aimed at creating cell therapies for immune-compromised pediatric patients.
Leemhuis, associate professor of pediatrics at the UC College of Medicine, says his team at Hoxworth will work with physicians at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to develop an experimental treatment that could potentially fight three of the most common viral infections in immune-compromised patients.
"The process will involve bringing an innovative technology from the Baylor College of Medicine to Hoxworth to collect blood from the patient, isolate white blood cell groups and genetically engineer the cells to express proteins that mimic the proteins of cytomegalovirus (herpes), Epstein-Barr virus and adenovirus (most commonly affecting the respiratory tract)—the three most common viruses affecting this population,” he says.
"This will help white blood cells identify the pathogens and begin fighting them before they are reintroduced to the patient’s system.”
Cancelas’ team will analyze the role of stem cell proteins in adult bone marrow to see how they can be manipulated to improve side effects of chemotherapy.
"Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the U.S.,” says Cancelas, director of research at Hoxworth and an associate professor at the College of Medicine. "A cornerstone of cancer therapy is chemo-radiotherapy, but a major side effect of chemo-radiotherapy is damage of blood-forming stem cells in the bone marrow.
"Our project intends to analyze the role of a protein involved in the cell-to-cell communication in the blood from inside the environment of the bone marrow and to see if manipulation of the function of this protein may improve some of the problems associated with cancer therapy.”
Patrick Ward, executive director of the Deaconess Associations Foundation, says he is pleased that this gift will not only be used to create cutting-edge treatments for patients, but also to further support Deaconess’ mission of encouraging medical innovation.
"We have a vital interest in furthering medical research, and we welcome this opportunity to partner with Hoxworth Blood Center,” he says. "Deaconess is proud to support this groundbreaking research in the name of the Heimlich Institute.”
The Heimlich Institute, housed on the campus of Deaconess Hospital in Clifton, moved from its original home in New York to Cincinnati about 30 years ago. The institute became a member of Deaconess Associations, Inc., in June 1998 to help advance and promote the mission of supporting educational efforts.
Ronald Sacher, MD, director of Hoxworth Blood Center, says the gift is creating exciting opportunities for the blood center in addition to contributing to the university’s ambitious $1 billion captial fundraising campaign, Proudly Cincinnati. Currently, UC has raised more than $646 million.
"We are pleased to be working with Deaconess to ramp up medical innovation in the Tristate,” Sacher says.
"With this generous gift, we are promoting collaboration and are truly working toward breakthrough discoveries that have the potential to help millions worldwide.
"We thank Deaconess and the Heimlich Institute for their generosity.”
He adds that this is an opportunity to exemplify the profound research that takes place at Hoxworth, which received nearly $2.4 million in funding last year.
"People are aware of Hox-worth’s role as a major blood donation center, but I believe there is some disconnect in its role as a major research center,” he says. "There is an abundance of innovative research going on behind these walls—from clinical trials looking at enhancing the process of blood storage to cellular therapies for patients with cancer using non-embryonic stem cells.
"We have quite a gem in Hoxworth.”