“What could the Children’s Research Institute do with $1 million?”
That was the question that Emy Lou and Jerry Baldridge asked Dr. Sean Morrison, director of the Children’s Research Institute, a joint venture between Children’s Medical Center and UT Southwestern Medical Center that opened in September.
“We will take innovative approaches to make transformative discoveries – discoveries that will change scientific fields and yield new approaches for treating disease. We will integrate teams of leading scientists and outstanding physicians whose skills are rarely found in a single laboratory,” Dr. Morrison answered.
That answer was music to the Baldridge’s ears. They had spent a great deal of time searching for a cause that would use their donation to make significant improvements in children’s lives. But their previous efforts to find such a high-impact project didn’t satisfy them.
It was only when Dr. Morrison told them that the goal of the Children’s Research Institute is to discover the therapies of tomorrow for children that they became excited. He explained that research at the interface of stem cell biology and metabolism has the potential to reveal important new strategies for treating diseases.
“One of our goals is to improve the treatment of childhood cancers by improving our understanding of the underlying biology,” Dr. Morrison said. “With the outstanding young scientists we’re recruiting to Dallas, we have an opportunity to do something special.”
The Baldridge’s gift will kick-start a study to develop new techniques for studying stem cell metabolism. The project will assess the extent to which tissue stem cells are metabolically different from other types of cells. The insights from this study could lead to new ways of promoting the regeneration of damaged tissues, and even to more effective ways of treating cancer.
They were thrilled to find such promising work with outstanding talent and leadership in Dallas. And when they learned about the potential for discovering new treatments for pediatric diseases, it became clear that it was a perfect fit for their philanthropic mission.
“We believe that the Institute will ultimately push the frontiers of pediatric medicine,” Jerry Baldridge said.