Medical Center Receives Gift for Stem Cell Research

August 10, 2006

A Rochester area businessman and his wife have donated $1 million to the University of Rochester Medical Center for stem cell research.

Jack A. Erdle, founder of Eldre Corp. in Henrietta, and his wife Norma have funded a charitable gift annuity in support of the Medical Center’s investigations of stem cell therapies that could prevent, treat or cure serious diseases.

The donation is the largest gift to the Medical Center that was designated for stem cell research.

“The gift by Jack and Norma is not only generous, it is a vote of confidence in our research programs and in our belief in the potential of stem cells,” said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., the University’s senior vice president for health sciences and the Medical Center’s chief executive officer.

Jack Erdle calls stem cells “an important part of tomorrow.”

“Think of what stem cells could do,” Norma Erdle said. “They could give people a more livable life, help them live longer and suffer less.”

Erdle and his wife have made substantial donations to several Rochester area institutions.

“You can’t keep going to the well unless you replenish it,” Jack Erdle said. “Our company is located here. We’ve been successful here. We owe the community. If you don’t give any of what you have back, there won’t be anything there for future generations.”

Jack Erdle was born in Montreal. His formal education, he said, stopped after elementary school.

“We knew what poor was,” he said. “But we knew about giving. My parents believed in giving. If they didn’t have money, they gave of their time.”

Erdle, who founded Eldre Corp. in the mid 1950s, is the chairman of Eldre’s board. The company’s headquarters is located at 1500 Jefferson Road. Eldre S.A., a wholly owned subsidiary of Eldre Corp., is in Angers, France, about 180 miles southwest of Paris. Eldre is the leading supplier of laminated bus bars in the world. A bus bar aids in the distribution of current. Bus bars are an important part of the electronic systems that operate trains, computers, automobiles, airplanes and telecommunications equipment.

Work with stem cells at the Medical Center touches a variety of diseases. Researchers at the Medical Center are at the forefront of research looking at the role of stem cells to treat diseases like leukemia, multiple sclerosis, and Huntington’s. Several teams of scientists are developing ways to replenish the nerve cells in the spinal cord that are injured in patients who have severe spinal cord injury. And other scientists are looking at the role of stem cells and their dysfunction in diseases that affect early human development.

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