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Northwestern gets $117.8 million gift; will go mostly toward regenerative medicine

Northwestern University alumnus and board member Louis A. Simpson and his wife, Kimberly K. Querrey, have donated $117.75 million to the university’s cutting-edge research in bio-nanotechnology and regenerative medicine. The latest portion of that gift, totaling $92 million, was announced by the university on Thursday.

“This effort is aimed at amazing, transformative research,” University President Morton Schapiro told the Sun-Times on Thursday.

Schapiro said he introduced Simpson and Querrey to the work of Samuel I. Stupp, the Northwestern professor whose lab is working on regrowing cells and, ultimately, regrowing organs, to help people suffering from cancer, heart disease and neuro-degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro.  |  Submitted photo

Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro. | Submitted photo

“It’s almost like science fiction, but it’s real,” he said.

“[Simpson and Querrey] just fell in love with the work and wanted to support [Stupp],” Schapiro said.

In recognition of their generosity, the new biomedical research center on Northwestern’s Chicago campus, expected to break ground in the spring, will be named the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center.

The 12-story, 600,000-square-foot, $400 million research center, on the site of the old Prentiss Women’s Hospital, will be connected to the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center. The new center is designed to accommodate 15 additional laboratory floors in the future. The center is expected to be completed in 2018.

Simpson is chairman of SQ Advisors LLC, an investment advisory firm in Naples, Fla. Previously, he was president and CEO of Capital Operations at GEICO Corp.

Querrey is president of SQ Advisors. Previously, she was president of Querrey Enterprises, a consulting firm. She serves on the board of directors and executive committee for both Artis Naples and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The couple lives in Naples, Fla.

“Kimberly and I are proud to support the leading-edge science that is occurring at Northwestern,” Simpson said in a statement. “The research that is being done now will have a real impact on people’s lives and give new hope to those who have been affected by injuries and disease.”

The couple’s gift follows a $100 million gift to Northwestern made in January by Roberta Buffett Elliott, the largest single gift in the University’s history.

Total giving to the university’s overall fundraising campaign, announced in March 2014, now totals $2.2 billion. The goal is to raise $3.75 billion for all of Northwestern’s 12 schools.

Northwestern University will retain part ownership of the intellectual property associated with professors’ research, as it does with its best-known discovery of Lyrica, a medication used to treat pain caused by nerve damage. Drug companies that take the medications to market get the lion’s share of the proceeds, Schapiro said.

“We’re in the business of making people’s lives better,” Schapiro said. “We reinvest [the university’s proceeds] into the research enterprise.”