College of Engineering alumnus donates $6 million gift for development of NextGen Precision Health Institute

Jim Fitterling’s gift will go toward the construction of a multidisciplinary research center that seeks to develop healthcare breakthroughs for the state of Missouri and beyond.
Jim Fitterling, Dow CEO and MU alumnus, announces a gift of $6 million toward the development of the NextGen Precision Health Institute during a gift ceremony Oct. 11, 2019. Photo by News Writer Alex Fulton

Jim Fitterling, Dow CEO and MU alumnus, will donate $6 million toward the development of the NextGen Precision Health Institute, the university announced during a gift ceremony Oct. 11.

Fitterling’s gift will go toward the facility's construction, which is set to be completed by Oct. 19, 2021.

Two weeks after graduating from MU in 1983, Fitterling accepted a position at Dow and eventually worked his way up to CEO. Today, Dow is one of the top three chemical companies in the world with sales of $48.8 billion in 2018, according to Chemical & Engineering News.

“One of the fundamental beliefs I'm working hard to instill at Dow is the fact there isn’t one of us who's as smart as all of us,” Fitterling said during his speech. “Together, we are so much more effective and so much more powerful and so much more dynamic than we are individually.”

Fitterling mentioned the numerous research projects going on at MU during his speech, like the research in radiochemistry done to develop a leading drug in pancreatic cancer and the work of Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital and MU Health Care on researching PTSD and traumatic brain injury. While these researchers work independently to perfect their work, Fitterling stated that the various disciplines should collaborate to advance their efforts.

The institute will accelerate collaboration between clinicians and industry partners, foster new public-private partnerships, enable a new level of entrepreneurship and transform healthcare research and delivery throughout the state.

According to the MU News Bureau, the facility will house researchers in various disciplines like engineering, medicine, veterinary medicine, animal sciences and art and sciences.

In addition to functioning as a collaborative effort among all MU colleges, the NextGen Precision Health Institute will connect the four campuses in the UM System to develop medical breakthroughs for the state of Missouri and help address future healthcare needs.

“The power of multidisciplinary collaborative research and development is more than the sum of its parts,” Fitterling said during his speech. “The power of reimagining the entire system is much more powerful than optimizing each expertise center.”

As a cancer survivor himself, Fitterling said he was inspired by the university’s efforts to advance research in PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, Alzheimer’s, dementia, cancer, vascular and neurological diseases. Additionally, Fitterling said the state’s rank among the lower third in the nation for sickness was another reason he donated.

With $220.8 million already allocated to create the facility through a combination of private and corporate support, it is one of the most ambitious investments in MU’s 180-year history. Through Fitterling’s gift, the NextGen Precision Health Institute will further its goal to develop a world-class teaching and research center.

“The real power of NextGen isn't just the facility,” Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said during his speech. “It's the opportunity for our talented scholars to discover and the impact those discoveries will have on the communities we serve. Thanks to Jim [Fitterling] and the hard work of so many people across our campus, the life-changing potential of NextGen isn't just an idea waiting to take hold. It's a story that's already being written.”

Edited by Laura Evans | levans@themaneater.com

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