Moving Science, Drug Development, Drug Discovery, Philanthropy

Southern Research launches philanthropic outreach with $500,000 gift

June 1, 2016

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Southern Research, a non-profit organization marking its 75th year of operation in 2016, today launched a broad-based philanthropic outreach initiative that includes a significant employee giving campaign.

The Southern Research employee give campaign is targeting $1 million in contributions over five years to fund innovative research programs, needed capital improvements, equipment purchases, and other potential uses.

To kick start the campaign, former President and CEO John A. “Jack” Secrist III, Ph.D., has pledged a donation of $500,000 to create the Encourage Innovation Fund. The fund will be used to enhance the organization’s ability to attract talented researchers and to help them thrive once they’re on board.

Secrist is a noted scientist who retired from Southern Research in 2013 after 34 years, including seven as its top leader. His research focused on the development of new anticancer, antiviral and antibacterial agents, and he is the co-inventor of clofarabine, an FDA-approved treatment for pediatric leukemia.

“Southern Research has played a prominent role in efforts to discover more effective treatments for cancer, make man’s journeys into space safer, and develop new technologies for a cleaner environment,” Secrist said. “From its beginning, the organization has been a hotbed of innovation, and supporting it today means that it will continue to make important contributions well into the future. We appreciate being part of that future.”

To show their firm support for the initiative, Southern Research’s entire leadership team – comprised of 33 officials, from the CEO to the director level – has agreed to participate in the employee give campaign.

Before today’s public announcement, the employee give campaign had quietly generated commitments totaling $145,000, all from the organization’s leadership team. Coupled with Secrist’s substantial contribution, Southern Research is making a strong push toward the campaign’s $1 million goal.


In addition, Southern Research is taking steps to reconnect with the philanthropic community and with donors whose generosity enabled the organization founded in Birmingham in 1941 to become a world leader in cancer research and make noteworthy advances in other fields including clean energy, vaccine development and engineering.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Southern Research seeks charitable donations to complement its traditional funding stream of research grants and contracts secured from government and commercial sponsors.

“As we celebrate our 75th anniversary, and beyond, we’re looking forward to reengaging with the philanthropic community and with donors who have helped Southern Research make a difference in the world,” said Art Tipton, Ph.D., president and CEO. “In fact, our cancer research program, which has been instrumental in saving countless lives with drug discoveries and therapeutic breakthroughs, got its start in 1946 with a single $25,000 philanthropic gift.”

As part of this outreach, Southern Research recently brought Brynne MacCann on board to provide administrative and tactical support to the organization’s fund-raising strategy. MacCann previously served as vice president for development at the McWane Science Center, and, prior to McWane, in development roles at the Birmingham Museum of Art and the MS Society.

Today, Southern Research’s four operating divisions focus on drug discovery, drug development, engineering, and energy and the environment. Its staff of more than 400 scientists, engineers and researchers work at facilities in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland and Texas.

Southern Research was incorporated on Oct. 11, 1941, as the Alabama Research Institute, and its name was changed three years later to reflect its regional focus. Over the years, the organization has conducted work on behalf of the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Energy, NASA, major aerospace firms, utility companies, and many others.

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