Entrepreneur Jimmy Mayer has £2.7 million to the University of Leicester to fund life-saving kidney research at the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology. It is the largest gift by an individual ever received by the University.
The donation was announced on the day that academic leaders and patient representatives gather at the University of Leicester to showcase their renal research and tour new laboratory facilities with the donor, Mr Jimmy Mayer, and members of his family.
The funding will create dedicated research facilities – The Mayer IgA Nephropathy Laboratories – as well as a named Professorship – the Mayer Chair in Renal Medicine – at the University.
This is Mr Mayer’s second major gift to renal research at the University. He gave £500,000 in 2014 to the Leicester research team to fund the IgA Nephropathy research programme.
He is a leading Colombian manufacturing entrepreneur, breaking ground particularly in the industries of plastics and petrochemicals.
Mr Mayer explained the personal reason behind his donations, talking about his son David, who was born in 1970.
He said: “When my son was diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy in 2012 I, as any father, started to research to better understand this condition; I wanted to know what could be done and how I could modestly contribute to these efforts.
“Through my investigation I became acutely aware of the broader implication of kidney disease in our society. I also came across the great work of the fabulous team at Leicester. I hopped on a train for a visit and have ever since been their number one fan. It seemed to me that with a grant of this type they could continue to build on a very solid foundation.
“It is my sincere hope that with these efforts they can make significant progress toward a more complete understanding of IgA Nephropathy, improved treatment options and, perhaps even, a cure.”
Professor Jonathan Barratt, University of Leicester, said: ‘This donation will transform our approach to the study of this common cause of kidney disease…The hope is that by better understanding the causes of IgA Nephropathy it will be possible to develop better clinical tests to allow specialists to diagnose IgA Nephropathy earlier, to help clinicians tell which patients are at greatest risk of developing kidney failure if they have IgA Nephropathy and, perhaps most importantly, identify new targets for drugs to treat this important cause of kidney failure.’
The University of Leicester hosts the UK’s biggest research group for study of kidney disease known as IgA Nephropathy. It is a condition in which an individual’s own antibodies, which are produced naturally to fight infections, settle in the kidneys and damage them by causing inflammation and scarring. Patients often do not display symptoms. As a result, most affected people are unaware they have the condition until they have a blood or urine test. The causes are not fully known and, in extreme cases, the condition can cause kidney failure.
Scientists at the University of Leicester have been investigating the condition for over 30 years.
Professor Barratt added: “Over the past three years I have got to know Jimmy and his son, David, and they have been incredibly supportive of our work here in Leicester. Both Jimmy and David have shown a keen interest in the recent scientific advances in kidney disease and have shown a real passion for understanding our work and how we are studying IgA nephropathy. It is true to say that without their support the Leicester IgA Nephropathy group would not have had the same degree of scientific success we have experienced over the past three years.”
Kidney Research UK
Kidney Research UK Chief Executive, Sandra Currie, welcomed the funding. She said: “Kidney Research UK is delighted to hear about this very generous gift to the renal research team at the University of Leicester. We are proud to have had a long and close association with the team, having invested over £0.75m in IgA Nephropathy research at Leicester over the last few years.”
Get free email updates
Keep up to date with fundraising news, ideas and inspiration with a weekly or daily email. [Privacy]