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News Release

For immediate use 

April 3, 2006 -- No. 190

Gift to School of Medicine creates opportunity
for cutting-edge research in cardiovascular biology

CHAPEL HILLA gift pledged by Dr. Hugh A. "Chip" McAllister Jr., and his wife, Angela, will give a major boost to cardiovascular disease research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine.

The McAllisters’ gift will establish the Hugh A. McAllister Jr., M.D. ’66 Endowment for Cardiovascular Biology. The endowment will support the medical school’s Carolina Cardiovascular Biology Center.

"We hope to turn this into one of the nation’s leading centers for cardiovascular research," said McAllister, a retired Houston physician who earned his UNC medical degree in 1966. "We want to get young scientists, the best in the country, to come here."

Dr. Cam Patterson, chief of the Division of Cardiology at UNC and director of the Carolina Cardiovascular Biology Center, called the McAllisters’ gift life-altering.

"The gift is really key to our center’s ability to accomplish our major goal, which is to understand cardiovascular disease and to place UNC at the international forefront in cardiovascular research," Patterson said. "Generous gifts like the one from the McAllisters are crucial to our having the resources and flexibility to do the kind of research that will change our understanding of cardiovascular disease over the next decade.

"Chip McAllister is a visionary scientist himself, and we are fortunate and honored to be able to follow in footsteps of giants like him," Patterson said.

The Carolina Cardiovascular Biology Center aims to advance the care of patients with diseases of the heart, blood and circulation by encouraging basic, preclinical and applied research to unravel the causes of cardiovascular disease and to provide new tools for diagnosis and treatment to promote well-being.

Specifically, the McAllisters’ gift will allow the center to do three things: recruit the most promising young investigators to come to UNC to carry out research, enable high-impact research that is not typically funded by the National Institutes of Health and allow researchers to communicate the importance of their work to the community.

"Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death in our society," Patterson said. "Half of all Americans will die of cardiovascular disease, unless we do something about it."

The spectrum of cardiovascular diseases is enormous – ranging from strictly genetic diseases such as sickle cell anemia and coagulation disorders to common diseases such as hypertension and atherosclerosis, the most common cause of heart attacks. This second group has environmental and poorly understood genetic components, which Patterson and his team will seek to unravel.

Although the McAllisters live in Houston, Dr. McAllister’s roots at UNC’s School of Medicine run deep. His father, Dr. Hugh A. McAllister Sr., earned his certificate of medicine at UNC in 1935. McAllister Sr. practiced obstetrics and gynecology in his hometown of Lumberton for four decades before his death in 1978.

The younger McAllister began his medical career in the armed forces. In 1971, he was named chairman of the department of cardiovascular pathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and he remained in that position until his retirement from the Medical Corps in 1984 at the rank of colonel. After his first "retirement," McAllister embarked upon a second career as founding chairman of the Texas Heart Institute’s department of cardiovascular pathology.

McAllister has been an active alumnus of UNC’s School of Medicine, serving on the UNC Medical Alumni Council. In 1999, he created an endowed distinguished professorship in obstetrics and gynecology at UNC in honor of his father.

The gift supporting cardiovascular research counts toward the Carolina First Campaign, a comprehensive, multi-year private fund-raising campaign with a goal of $2 billion to support Carolina’s vision of becoming the nation’s leading public university.

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Development Communications contact: Scott Ragland, (919) 962-0027 or scott_ragland@unc.edu