Children’s hospital gets $25M

School leaders hope the Minn. Masonic Charities donation will spur new disease cures.

Kaylee Kruschke

Doctors at the University of Minnesota’s children’s hospital traded in their white coats for ones embroidered with a new name.

With its $25 million donation, the Minnesota Masonic Charities became the University’s largest donor, and in honor of the gift, the campus’s pediatric hospital was renamed Tuesday as the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.

The donation will primarily go toward finding cures and treatments for childhood diseases, said Eric Neetenbeek, Minnesota Masonic Charities president and CEO.

The gift will specifically enhance patient and family experiences, as well as advance pediatric research on neurobehavioral development, rare and infectious disease, and stem cell therapy.

Dr. Joseph Neglia, the hospital’s physician-in-chief, said he hopes the gift will create stronger relationships with pediatrics researchers across the University.

“Really, to build new bridges is one big part of what I’d like us to do,” Neglia said. “These gifts are vitally important for the hospital.”

With the donation, Neglia said he also hopes to expand the hospital’s existing research, like its work on correcting genetic defects in human cells and its pediatric medicine international programs in Kenya and Uganda.

Neetenbeek said the Mason’s donations, which total $125 million over the last 60 years, have been essential at a time when new health care research struggles to receive competitive funding from larger organizations like the National Institutes of Health.

“There aren’t too many venture capitalists willing to go with untried businesses [and] ideas,” he said. “The same is true when you’re looking at research into health care problems.”

In the near future, the Masons will meet physicians at the children’s hospital to discuss which promising research projects to allocate the money toward, Neetenbeek said.

Cutting-edge health research, if successful, will likely garner additional dollars from other national sources, he said.

“We’re sort of a catalyst with regard to new types of research,” Neetenbeek said.

University President Eric Kaler thanked the Masons for their $25 million donation in a press release Tuesday.

“Top quality in health care is only possible when we have community support,” he said in the release.

The children’s hospital was originally named after Dr. Kurt Amplatz; who spent 40 years researching at the University. His daughter, Caroline Amplatz, donated $50 million to the hospital’s construction in 2009 and gave up the naming rights earlier this spring.