Family of Local Entrepreneur Gives $5 Million to New Medical Research Institute

July 20, 1999

Rochester entrepreneur Richard T. Aab announced today that he and his family will give $5 million - one of the largest private gifts in the history of the Medical Center - to help establish the Medical Center's new research institute. In accepting the donation, Medical Center officials announced that the new research institute will be named the Aab Institute of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

"The tremendous generosity of the Aab family virtually guarantees that this will be one of the world's premier institutions for medical research," said Jay H. Stein, M.D., senior vice president and vice provost for Health Affairs at the University of Rochester and chief executive officer of the Medical Center. The $5 million gift will be used to recruit top medical researchers from around the world, and to build and outfit the Medical Center's new research building with state-of-the-art scientific equipment.

In describing his family's desire to make the multi-million-dollar donation, Mr. Aab cited the potential benefits the new research institute holds for the Rochester community.

"We are convinced that the researchers in this institute will make important advances in our understanding of a variety of diseases - such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease - that touch every family in the Rochester community," said Mr. Aab. "In addition, the extraordinary expertise of these researchers will strengthen the Medical Center's ability to provide the most advanced health care to our community."

About the Aab Institute of Biomedical Sciences

The Aab Institute of Biomedical Sciences is the centerpiece of a ten-year, $400 million plan to dramatically expand medical research at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Approximately 70 medical scientists and 400 technicians and support personnel are being recruited for the Institute, which will complement the Medical Center's existing research programs. The expansion represents the largest recruitment effort at the University since the School of Medicine and Dentistry was founded in 1924.

The Institute will be located in the Arthur Kornberg Medical Research Building, a new, four-story, 240,000-square-foot building at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Lattimore Road. The building, named in honor of a Nobel-Prize-winning graduate of the medical school, is nearing completion and is scheduled to open in September.

The Aab Institute of Biomedical Sciences will consist of six research centers, each dedicated to a specific area of medical research. They are:

  • The Center for Aging and Developmental Biology
  • The Center for Cancer Biology
  • The Center for Cardiovascular Research
  • The Center for Human Genetics and Molecular Pediatric Diseases
  • The Center for Oral Biology
  • The Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology

Each center will consist of a "cluster" of eight to 12 scientists and physicians supported by approximately 25 to 40 technicians and staff. Five prominent scientists have been selected to lead centers within the Institute, and a nation-wide recruiting effort is underway to attract dozens of other scientists to Rochester.

In each of the Institute's research centers, scientists will be engaged in a two-part research strategy. First, they will study the workings of the human body at the most basic level - that of molecules and genes - to learn how the body's normal function is sabotaged by diseases - such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and AIDS. Then, with a clearer understanding of the mechanisms by which diseases attack the body, the scientists will attempt to devise new approaches to treat the diseases - or to prevent them from striking altogether.

Benefits to the Community

The Medical Center is working aggressively to recruit some of the nation's top physicians and scientists to staff the new research institute - an endeavor that has important implications for the health of the community.

"The Aab Institute of Biomedical Sciences will give people in Rochester access to some of the nation's foremost experts in a variety of medical specialties," said Stein. "We're building on an outstanding core of talent that already exists at the Medical Center. The result will be a world-class powerhouse of medical expertise here in Rochester."

In addition, new treatments that are developed in the research institute will likely be available to people in the Rochester area first - in some cases years before those treatments are made available at most hospitals around the nation.

"New treatments for diseases are what draw patients to the nation's top medical centers," said Stein. "Many hospitals provide excellent medical care. But the medical centers that are ranked as the nation's best - such as Johns Hopkins and Harvard - are the ones that have solid research programs that find new and better ways to fight disease. The development of our research institute moves the University of Rochester a step closer toward a place among those medical centers."

In addition to bringing new medical expertise to Rochester, the development of the research institute will contribute substantially to the Rochester economy. The research institute will create nearly more than 400 high-skill jobs at the Medical Center. According to a study conducted last year by the Center for Governmental Research, Inc., the research institute will contribute $52 million annually to the local economy by 2001, and $75 million annually by 2006. Construction of the building which will house the research institute will generate $40 million in labor compensation to area workers.

About the Aab Family

Richard Aab and his wife, Jackie, are life-long Rochesterians. They have been married for 29 years and have two children, Melissa Aab, age 22; and Richard E. Aab, age 18. Melissa, who recently graduated from Syracuse University with a B.S. in biology, is currently working in a medical research laboratory in Boston. Richard will begin undergraduate studies at New York University's Tisch School of the Performing Arts this fall.

Jackie Aab, a graduate of Eastridge High School, earned a B.A. in English from the State University of New York at Potsdam and an M.S. in Education from Nazareth College. She worked as an elementary school teacher for six years in the Fairport School District, then spent five years as a regulatory analyst for an environmental software company.

Richard T. Aab graduated from Rochester's John Marshall High School and went on to earn a B.S. degree in Economics from Clarkson University. In 1982 he co-founded ACC Corp., a publicly-owned telecommunications company in Rochester, where he served as Chairman and CEO. By 1998 Aab had built ACC into a company of more than 1,000 employees with revenues approaching $500 million annually. Last year ACC was acquired by a subsidiary of AT&T for $1.1 billion.

During 1996 Richard founded a second company, US LEC Corp. (NASDAQ: CLEC), a telecommunications company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, that provides voice and data communication services to customers in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern U.S. US LEC employs 300 people and has revenues approaching $100 million.

Both Richard and Jackie remain actively involved in the Rochester community. Richard serves on the University of Rochester Medical Center Board as well as the University's Technology Transfer Advisory Board. He is also a Trustee of the Rochester Institute of Technology and WXXI. Jackie has been involved in the Pittsford Parent-Teacher-Student Association and in Scouting, and is a member of the Pittsford Women's Club. The Aabs actively support many charitable and community organizations.

Fundraising Campaign Nears $35 million Goal

Two years ago the Medical Center launched a five-year fundraising campaign, co-chaired by Rochester businessmen Robert Gutkin and Robert Hurlbut, to raise $35 million to help establish the research institute. The $5 million gift from the Aab family puts the current campaign total at $32.5 million, just $2.5 million away from the Medical Center's goal.

"We are elated at the support we have received from the Rochester community," said Stein. "It's clear that people view our new research institute as an important asset to the community. They want to get behind our effort to bring some of the nation's top medical researchers to Rochester."

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Christopher DiFrancesco
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