Gables-Based Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Gives Back to the Local Medical Community
What does the University of Miami’s cutting-edge Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute (BioNIUM) have in common with a small children’s dental clinic in the back of the Coral Gables Woman’s Club? Both were funded by a low-profile Gables foundation that has been backing both high intensity health research centers and community health programs.
Located on Madruga Avenue on the south side of U.S. 1, the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation has been funding local healthcare initiatives for almost three decades. The foundation is named after one of the founders of Doctors Hospital, Dr. John Temper Macdonald, and was established by his colleagues when he died in 1951. In 1992, when Doctors Hospital was sold to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Corporation for $12 million, the foundation used the proceeds to become a grant-making nonprofit.
Since then, the foundation has given more than $47 million in grants to over 300 community-based organizations, including the Coral Gables Woman’s Club for their dental clinic for underprivileged children. Recent grants have been especially important due to the pandemic. “Extra expenses have been required to purchase PPE equipment, sanitizers, masks, gloves, gowns, cleaning liquids – and more that are required by the CDC,” says Ruth Martinez, president of the Woman’s Club. With foundation support, they reopened the clinic in June and have seen more than 200 patients since then.
At the other end of the health spectrum is the Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute at the University of Miami. Run by Professor Sylvia Daunert of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UM’s Miller School of Medicine, the nanotechnology institute was funded by the Macdonald Foundation in 2012 with a $7.5 million grant. In 2015, the institute inaugurated its nano fabrication facility, capable of producing “nano carriers, that act like a tiny submarine with a GPS to deliver drugs or stem cells in the body,” says Daunert. The facility is open to every South Florida company that needs to design and fabricate “very precise devices and materials at the micro and nano scales,” she says.
That is music to the ears of the Macdonald Foundation. “Our board is appreciative of the work being done by our grant recipients throughout the community,” says Aldo C. Busot, chairman of the foundation. Busot has served on the foundation board since 1998 and, as a senior vice president for wealth management at Morgan Stanley, is one of the directors responsible for growing the fund over the years.
The foundation has also funded UM’s Department of Human Genetics and its School Health Initiative. Created in 2007, the Department of Human Genetics has already identified key genes that lead to Alzheimer’s. “It is one of the leading hubs for translational research, where state of the art technology and tools are used for both the treatment and prevention of genetic-related diseases,” says John Edward Smith, managing director of the foundation.
The School Health Initiative, meanwhile, provides primary healthcare and mental health counseling to students at nine public schools in Miami-Dade. The foundation also provides scholarships to nursing and medical students at UM, Barry University and Florida International University. To learn more or to apply for a grant, visit jtmacdonaldfdn.org