Polio Foundation Set Up by F.D.R. Is Moving to UCI

Times Staff Writer

UC Irvine is getting the major polio and rehabilitative-medicine and research foundation that President Franklin D. Roosevelt established in Georgia 61 years ago.

The board of the Atlanta-based Warm Springs Foundation said Wednesday that the program is being moved out of Georgia and will be set up at UCI by July 31.

The foundation will give UCI's College of Medicine $500,000 for an endowed chair in physical and rehabilitative medicine. It will become the 23-year-old campus's 11th endowment and one of its most prestigious. UCI beat out two other major contenders, Harvard University and Ohio State University, for the endowment money and the honor of being the new site of Roosevelt's famous polio foundation.

In addition to the endowed chair, the foundation will also give UCI $100,000 for research in rehabilitative medicine in various areas, including spinal injuries.

UCI officials said the new foundation office will be housed in the existing buildings at the College of Medicine. They added that "a physician of national stature" will be appointed to the newly endowed chair. The campus will probably use the relocated foundation to help raise another $500,000 to make the UCI endowment total $1 million for research into polio and rehabilitative medicine.

Roosevelt, a victim of poliomyelitis, started the foundation to try to find a vaccine for polio and ways for polio victims to be rehabilitated.

The foundation once raised millions of dollars annually through nationwide fund drives, but after the development of polio vaccines, it has been largely dormant in the past 20 years. The board of directors two years ago considered dissolving the foundation, but decided to give most of its remaining assets to a major research university to continue the name and research.

"We could have gone to Harvard or Ohio State, but we picked (UC) Irvine because it is one of the 10 top rehabilitative medicine places in the country," said Dr. Ernest W. Johnson, a Warm Springs Foundation member and chairman of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Ohio State University.

Johnson said that the contenders for the foundation's assets also included Chapman College in Orange.

In a telephone interview from Ohio, Johnson said the five-member board this past weekend met in Irvine and concluded arrangements for transferring the foundation and its remaining assets to UCI.

"We don't really know exactly how much money we have at this point remaining in the foundation," Johnson said, noting that some of the assets are in oil-well royalties. But Johnson said there is at least $900,000 in cash--$600,000 of which will be given outright to UCI for the endowed chair and research grant.

He said the other $300,000 would remain with the foundation for its grants in future years. In addition, he said, the foundation expects to award another $100,000 a year in grants from the annual income from the oil and gas royalties.

In addition to Johnson, other Warms Springs Foundation board members include former Rep. James Roosevelt of Newport Beach, who is a son of F.D.R., and his two sons, Michael of San Francisco and James Jr. of Boston.

At UCI, the reaction was ecstatic.

"This is fantastic," said L. Wade Rose, assistant dean for community affairs at UCI's College of Medicine. "It's another instance of East moving West. The foundation saw the excellent academic program here and chose to be a part of it. This will become our sixth endowed chair in the College of Medicine."

The discovery of an effective polio vaccine in 1953 by Dr. Jonas Salk led to virtual elimination of the dread disease in most Western nations.

But Rose and Johnson noted that polio treatment remains a problem in underdeveloped nations. Also, both men pointed out that a serious disorder called "post-polio syndrome" is affecting hundreds of adults who had polio symptoms as children. That syndrome involves a gradual failure of remaining nerve cells not damaged by the original polio, Johnson noted. He said that the nerve cells remaining after polio "can become overworked and lose their ability to operate."

Rose said post-polio syndrome will be a major field of research with the endowed chair and research money. "We are seeing more and more cases of this as people who had polio when they were children now are in their mature years," Rose said.


1. Daniel G. Aldrich Jr. Chair, held by Sherwood Rowland (1984)-- $250,000. It was established with a $100,000 gift from the Irvine Co.

2. UCI Presidential Chair, held by Peter Rentzepis (1985)--Established with $250,000 from the Office of the President.

3. Grace Beekhuis Bell Chair in Biochemistry, held by Masayasu Nomura (1986)--Total endowment now about $1.1 million; established with $250,000 from Bell.

4. Irving Leopold Chair in Ophthalmology; unfilled (1986)--Endowment now at more than $1 million; established with $500,000 from Allergan.

5. FHP Foundation Distinguished Chair in Health Care Management, held by Paul Feldstein (1986)--Established with $1.1 million from the FHP Foundation.

6. Thomas and Elizabeth Tierney Chair in Peace Studies; unfilled (1987)--Established with $250,000 from the Tierneys.

7. Dorothy Marsh Chair in Reproductive Biology; unfilled (1987--Target is $1 million; currently at about $750,000, including donation of clinical practice building (sold for about $460,000) from Marsh.

8. Arnold and Mabel Beckman Chair in Laser Biomedicine; unfilled (1988)--Target is $1 million; currently at $500,000 ($250,000 from the Beckmans and $250,000 from the CCM Board of Trustees.)

9. Walter B. Gerken Chair in Enterprise and Society; unfilled (1988)--Target is $500,000; currently at about $450,000, with $175,000 of that from Pacific


10. Gold Star Chair--Not yet approved by regents; $600,000 from Gold Star Telecommunications, Korea (1988); target is $1 million.

11. Roosevelt Warm Springs Foundation Chair--(pending). The chair is expected to be established with $500,000 from the Warm Springs (FDR) Foundation, and will be in the physical medicine and rehabilitation department. Rehabilitation for victims of spinal cord and brain injuries and other disorders, as well as geriatric and burn victims.

Source: UC Irvine

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