U of M gets $40 million for diabetes research

Richard Schulze
Best Buy founder Richard Schulze and his family are giving the University of Minnesota $40 million for diabetes research. Schulze has a daughter who has the disease.
MPR photo/Tom Weber

The disease has long been considered one that people can live with, if treated properly. But university researcher Bernhard Hering says this gift will help change that notion.

"Our objective must be to cure, not to manage and treat diabetes," Hering said. "Curing Type 1 diabetes is possible. We only need to declare it possible, engage the brightest minds, be contagiously committed and break all barriers."

Hering's team has worked extensively on a treatment that transplants the cells that produce insulin from pigs. The Schulze money will help further that research.

In recognition of the gift, the university will rename its Diabetes Institute for Immunology and Transplantation the Schulze Diabetes Institute.

Schulze's daughter was diagnozed with Type 1 diabetes, which the family says was a factor in steering the donation towards such research.

"We felt the time was right to choose a direction that would advance to a cure in the next five years," Schulze said.

This is not the only significant donation Schulze and his family have made. They gave $50 million to the University of St. Thomas in 2000, and they also gave $48.9 million to the Mayo Clinic.

The announcement from the University of Minnesota comes the same week that the College of St. Catherine announced $20 million from an anonymous donor.

St. Catherine's officials say it's the largest gift in the college's 104-year history. The endowment will produce a $1 million annual payment to the school, and will fund the college's school of health, increase the number of nursing students taught at the school, expand nursing laboratories on campus and enhance online learning.

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