Research

Seeing science fiction become reality

As a child growing up in East Millinocket, Maine, Scott MacKenzie was a huge fan of science and science fiction. One of the first magazines he ever subscribed to was Scientific American; one of the first books he ever read was science fiction.

Now he can read about the research he has supported as the head of the Jacksonville, Florida-based Scott R. MacKenzie Foundation, which funds research on cardiac and kidney regeneration by MDI Biological Laboratory scientists.

“When I launched the Scott R. MacKenzie Foundation, I wanted to support cutting-edge scientific research that had the potential to make a big impact,” MacKenzie said during a recent visit to the laboratory. He said the payoff on his support of research at the MDI Biological Laboratory has been “spectacular.”

Scientists at the MDI Biological Laboratory are working to understand the underlying mechanisms involved in regeneration. If successful, their research could result in improved therapies for patients suffering from heart disease and diabetic kidney disease.

This is a wonderful example of the power of philanthropy to move science forward,” said Jeri Bowers, director of development and public affairs. “Funding from private foundations like Scott R. MacKenzie allows our early-career scientists to generate the data and publications they need to compete for federal research funding.”

Though MacKenzie is aware that the path to bringing new therapies to market can be difficult, he is also cognizant of the transformative potential of regenerative medicine therapies. It is possible, he observed, that in his lifetime he will see science fiction become a reality in the form of a drug whose development he has helped fund.

“Science needs benefactors like Scott who give scientists the intellectual freedom to explore their imaginations and creativity,” said Hermann Haller, M.D., president of the MDI Biological Laboratory. “It’s how breakthroughs happen.”

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