Tulane University announced plans Monday to fund research at the Tulane School of Medicine, using a $25 million gift from the family of well-known internal medicine physician John W. Deming, a 1944 graduate of the school.
The donation, which will name the John W. Deming Department of Medicine at Tulane University, is the largest in the School of Medicine's history, according to Tulane officials.
The gift tops off a banner year of fundraising for Tulane. New gifts and commitments exceeded $126 million, breaking the university’s all-time record.
The $25 million gift for research was made by Bertie Deming Smith, John Deming's wife of 50 years.
She chose to honor her husband in a way that would be befitting to the now-deceased doctor and scholar, she told Tulane officials.
“By making this gift, I wanted to pay tribute to John’s deep love for Tulane and his belief in the importance of education,” she said.
The department of medicine is the largest translational research department in the School of Medicine, according to Dr. Lee Hamm, dean and senior vice president of the school.
Hamm said the Deming family's gift will go into an endowment providing "critical support" for junior investigators attempting to secure competitive federal grants.
"It’s like perpetual seed money," Hamm said of the fund.
The money will fund both clinical and translational research, which allows scientists to transform discoveries made in the laboratory into effective treatments.
The projects will relate to various branches of internal medicine, including cardiology, kidney diseases, infectious diseases and cancer.
Hamm said philanthropic support by donors like the Deming family is of "greater importance than ever before" as federal funding for research continues to wane.
"Their help is crucial in supporting ongoing research, the most important enterprise of the future," Hamm said.
Deming received his medical degree from the Tulane School of Medicine in 1944. He died in 1996 at the age of 76.
He grew up in Evergreen, Alabama, and attended Auburn University before he enrolled at Tulane. After he graduated from medical school, he finished an internship at Charity Hospital in New Orleans and then served as a captain in the Army Medical Corps.
He later practiced internal medicine in Alexandria, Louisiana from 1950 to 1985.
During his career, he had affiliations with Rapides General Hospital, St. Frances Cabrini Hospital, Huey P. Long Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital.
He also was a director of the Council for a Better Louisiana, co-chairman of the Central Louisiana Health Planning Council and president of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana.
He served as a member of the Louisiana Commission on Human Relations and Responsibilities and co-chaired the Citizens Advisory Committee of the state Department of Education, which focused on improving education in the state.
Members of the Deming family have been frequent contributors to Tulane and the School of Medicine, Tulane President Mike Fitts noted.
In 1970 Deming and the Murphy family created the Tulane Murphy Foundation, named in honor of Dr. Deming's father-in-law, Charles Murphy. Among other benefits to Tulane, gifts from this foundation have established the Murphy Institute for Political Economy, the Deming Medical Fund and the Deming Library Fund.
One of the most noted contributions from the Deming family was made a decade ago, when Claiborne P. Deming, Murphy Oil Corp.'s president and chief executive officer, donated the Murphy Exploration Building and parking garage on South Robertson Street to the School of Medicine.
The building was used to house administrative and educational offices and a planned $5 million medical training simulation center.
"Tulane and the School of Medicine would not be where it is today without the exceptional commitment and remarkable foresight of the Deming family," Fitts said. "No family has been as significant to the success of the school over the years."