$5 million gift to boost gene therapy research

A $5 million gift establishes the Earl and Christy Powell University Chair in Gene Therapy and Genetics Research

For the past 12 years, UF researchers at the Powell Gene Therapy Center have pioneered gene therapies aimed at helping patients with inherited blindness and paralyzing neuromuscular diseases.

With many of these therapies about to cross over from the laboratory to mainstream medicine, the Powell Center’s original benefactors, Earl and Christy Powell, of Miami, are making another major push to accelerate help for people with genetic diseases.

Their $5 million gift will establish the Earl and Christy Powell University Chair in Gene Therapy and Genetics Research at the UF Health Science Center and reinforce the couple’s commitment to advancing the field of gene therapy.

The chair, to be held by an internationally recognized leader in gene therapy, will focus on the development of methods for safe and effective delivery of therapeutic genes to patients with a variety of diseases.

UF researchers with the Powell Center have been instrumental in the discovery of ways to replace defective genes with healthy ones to treat diseases such as congenital blindness, cystic fibrosis, Pompe disease and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.

“The discoveries made at UF over the last decade represent concrete examples of the power of collaboration between scientists in the Powell Center with other genetics researchers across campus, including the McKnight Brain Institute, the Emerging Pathogens Institute and many other areas of the university,” said David S. Guzick, MD, PhD, senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of the UF&Shands Health System.