First Ted Nash awards go to Shay, Srivastava

UT Southwestern researchers received two of the first five grants awarded by the Ted Nash Long Life Foundation, a fund created by a Waco businessman who wanted to support medical research that could increase the length or quality of life.

The foundation invited applications from eight medical centers, each of which nominated two investigators.

Dr. Jerry W. Shay, vice chairman of cell biology, and Dr. Deepak Srivastava, professor of molecular biology and pediatrics, will each receive $100,000 a year for two years. Researchers at the UT Health Science Center at Houston, Baylor College of Medicine and the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research each received single grants.

"The foundation was quite impressed with both of the [UT Southwestern] grant applications," said Daniel A. Palmer, a director of the foundation. "Originally, we planned to limit the grants to one per school, but both of the grants from UT Southwestern were such good quality and fit our mission statement so well that we decided to fund both grants."

Self-made millionaire Ted Nash hoped that his foundations could one day benefit future generations. The program is limited to those making quantum strides in medical research at Texas medical schools and at the Mayo Clinic, where Mr. Nash received much of his care before his death in 2002.

"Ted had always wanted to do something that would benefit mankind in a major way for a long time," Mr. Palmer said. "His interest was not simply finding a cure for a disease, but doing something that could dramatically prolong life and take care of major diseases, not only the ones that exist now, but those that might come up in the future. Ted wanted to put money into research that would be revolutionary but that might not be funded through other channels because it was so innovative."

Mr. Nash made his fortune by following a structured investment strategy and savings philosophy. He went to work for Electro-Motive, a division of General Motors, after serving as an army officer during World War II. In 1948 when Electro-Motive began a nationwide tour of The General Motors Train of Tomorrow, a new diesel-driven locomotive, Mr. Nash worked as a liaison to major railroad companies, relaying their concerns to Electo-Motive. After retiring from Electro-Motive, Mr. Nash began working with the General Motors Speaker Bureau, speaking to high school and college students about social and economic conservative issues.

Mr. Nash and his parents moved to Waco after he retired from General Motors in the mid-1970s.

Dr. Shay received his grant for his work on the use of telomerase to create bioengineered tissues that could improve the length and quality of the average human lifespan. Dr. Srivastava received his grant for his work on Thymosin beta 4-induced repair of the heart and brain after heart attacks and strokes.

Dr. Shay and long-term collaborator Dr. Woodring Wright, professor of cell biology, have done some of the original and defining work on telomeres, repeating sequences of DNA located at the end of each chromosome that are believed to function as a counting mechanism for cellular aging. Dr. Shay is the associate director of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, and holder, along with Dr. Wright, of the Southland Corporation Distinguished Chair in Geriatrics.

Dr. Srivastava is a national leader in the treatment of congenital heart disease and in performing research on specific genes responsible for cardiac birth defects. He holds the Pogue Distinguished Chair in Research on Cardiac Birth Defects and the Joel B. Steinberg, M.D., Chair in Pediatrics. He is co-director of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Center at UT Southwestern.