WVU receives $1 million for pediatric diabetes

Donor challenges all West Virginians to join the fight

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University’s efforts to combat pediatric diabetes received critical support on Wednesday with a $1 million donation to WVU Children’s Hospital and the WVU Department of Pediatrics from former state legislator Mike Ross. Included in the gift is $400,000 for research, which is expected to qualify for a match from the state’s Research Trust Fund.

The gift will create two separate funds in the name of the Mike Ross Family. One will provide support for the treatment and education of children with diabetes and their families. The other, the Mike Ross Family Pediatric Diabetes Research Fund, will fund pediatric diabetes research.

“Diabetes has touched nearly every family in West Virginia, including my own family,” Mr. Ross said. “With this gift, I challenge all West Virginians to join me in the fight against this disease.”

"One of the major goals of the University's new Strategic Plan is to enhance the well-being and the quality of life for the people of West Virginia. This gift and the potential match from the Research Trust Fund are important steps on the path to achieving that goal, and we thank Mr. Ross for entrusting WVU to further our work in the critical area of pediatric diabetes,"  WVU President Jim Clements, Ph.D., said.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that 25.8 million children and adults in the United States – 8.3 percent of the population – have diabetes. Diabetes increases a person’s risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, kidney disease and nervous system disease.

“West Virginia is clearly in the top four or five in the country for diabetes. This gift is critical to reversing those trends. With chronic, life-long diseases like diabetes, education is essential and needs to start early. Without education, patients are not compliant with their treatment and do not properly take their medications. In the long run, this can have tragic consequences because compliance is key to diabetes management,” Giovanni Piedimonte, M.D., chair of the WVU Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief at WVU Children’s Hospital, said.

“Mr. Ross’ gift is earmarked to meet exactly this strategic need because it will support specialized personnel promoting continuity of care for diabetic children through provider education, development of programs, evaluation of outcomes and direct interaction with patients, families and groups.”

In 2008, the state created the Research Trust Fund with an initial appropriation of $50 million to leverage public and private investments that will transform West Virginia’s economy. WVU is able to tap into the fund to double private gifts that support expansions to research faculty and infrastructure in key areas linked to economic development, healthcare and job growth. To date, private and state dollars combined for WVU total over $33 million.

The gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the private non-profit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts for the benefit of WVU.

Photo caption: (From left to right) Joann and Mike Ross accept a piece of artwork designed by a patient at West Virginia University Children’s Hospital from Christopher Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., chancellor for health sciences at WVU.