Danforth Foundation Grant of $70 Million Made to Danforth Plant Science Center
January 7, 2011
Final Danforth Foundation Grant of $70 Million to be Made to the Danforth Plant Science Center
In its last major grant before closing its doors, the Danforth Foundation will give $70 million to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center here to accelerate the Center's ascent as the world's leading independent plant science research center, the Foundation announced today.
The grant is among the largest in the Foundation's 84 year history, and brings to $226 million the total the Foundation has contributed to the Danforth Center over the years. The grant will be used to help the Danforth Center undertake the first phase of a planned three-part expansion of its scientific staff, capabilities and facilities.
"The Foundation was built on stock of the Ralston Purina Company, which defined its business as feeding the world," said John C. Danforth, the Foundation's chairman and a former U.S. Senator from Missouri. "It could not be more fitting that our final grant is being made to an institution whose mission is to improve nutrition and help feed the hungry."
The mission of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, which was founded in 1998, is to "Improve the human condition through plant science." Besides seeking to improve nutrition and feed the world's hungry, Danforth Center researchers are working to develop renewable sources of energy and other sustainable products that will preserve and enhance the environment and make St. Louis the world center for plant science, in terms of both research and commercial development.
"St. Louis has quickly become a world leader in plant science and the Danforth Center and its partner institutions are at the core of this effort," said Dr. William H. Danforth, chairman of the Danforth Plant Science Center and vice chair of the Danforth Foundation. "The future is bright for St. Louis and for the results of our work. I see the Danforth Center as both a gift to St. Louis and a gift from St. Louis to the wider world."
The Danforth Foundation grant will support the Danforth Center's endowment, the income from which will help fund the Danforth Center's current research and launch phase one of its anticipated expansion. The Danforth Center will rely on support from the St. Louis community and others to complete phases two and three.
"The grant will enable us to add critical expertise and new technologies to the Danforth Center, and then to train scientists how to solve some of the longstanding problems that limit agricultural productivity," said Dr. James C. Carrington, incoming president of the Danforth Center. "We will focus on addressing some of the major unanswered problems in plant science, such as how genes interact with changing environments to control crop yield, growth and resistance to stress. The grant will also accelerate the translation of basic discoveries into commercial applications, which the St. Louis region is particularly well-suited to accomplish."
Specifically, Dr. Carrington said, the grant will enable the Danforth Center to hire five new principal investigators in critical areas; expand bioinformatics and biocomputing capabilities; and expand training opportunities for scientists, including students - helping to keep the best and brightest in St. Louis.
"The opportunities before the Danforth Center and St. Louis are vast," said Dr. Danforth. "This grant demonstrates the belief in the Danforth Center's mission as well as its ability to accelerate our progress toward its potential. As with past frontiers our community has embraced, from Lewis and Clark to the Lindbergh flight, visionary people of St. Louis have always played a key role. So, while the Danforth Foundation's grant serves as a call to continue the journey, successful completion of the journey will depend on the commitments of the people of St. Louis to embrace a shared vision for our region and the world."
About the Danforth Foundation
The Danforth Foundation was established in St. Louis in 1927 by William H. Danforth, the founder of the Ralston Purina Company, and his wife and children with a mission of "promoting the well-being of mankind." For most of its history its focus was national in scope and its main area of interest was education.
In 1997, however, the Foundation shifted its focus to the St. Louis area, and eventually it chose three main areas of concentration: the development of the plant and life sciences, neighborhood redevelopment, and downtown revitalization. The Foundation, which had for years been spending from capital, announced in 2003 that it would expend the majority of its remaining assets on the development of the plant and life sciences in the St. Louis area. At that time the Foundation also made it clear that it would spend down its assets, and it gradually ceased making grants for operating funds.
About the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center has quickly grown to become the world's largest not-for-profit independent research institute dedicated to plant science. Scientists at the Center are engaged in research that strives to enhance the nutritional content of plants, increase agricultural production to create a sustainable food supply, reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizer, develop new and sustainable biofuels, and generate scientific ideas and technologies that will contribute to the economic growth of the St. Louis region. The research projects of the Center are funded through competitive grants and contract revenue from many sources, including the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Agency for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center invites you to visit its new website, www.danforthcenter.org, featuring interactive information on the Center's scientists, news and research, including the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels, the Center for Advanced Biofuel Research, and the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts.
For additional information, contact:
Karla Goldstein, (314) 406-4287, email@example.com
or Melanie Bernds, (314) 605-6363, firstname.lastname@example.org
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