A Model of Collaboration in the Search for a Cure: The Dedication of Harper Hall

Raclin-Carmichael Hall Auditorium
South Bend, Indiana
March 8, 2011

Introduction: Four Decades of Medical Education

South Bend, Indiana, is the site of an historic development in the IU School of Medicine. It was here in 1968—over four decades ago—that the School of Medicine established a pilot program to teach basic medical sciences to medical students on the Notre Dame campus.

This program, along with a similar pilot program at Purdue, marked the beginning of IU’s statewide presence in medical education and also signaled milestone partnerships with our sister institutions around the state.

Today marks another great milestone in medical research, education, and partnership as we dedicate Harper Hall.

A History of Milestones

The history of the IU School of Medicine has been enriched by many such milestones. Not long after the school was established in 1903, the Long family donated funds for the construction of the Robert W. Long Hospital, an early home of the School of Medicine. Over a century later, the IU School of Medicine has grown to include eight medical education centers located in every major city across the state. It is the second largest school of medicine in the country and has trained about half of all Indiana doctors.

And the IU School of Medicine joins with researchers across Indiana in the battle against cancer. IU researchers have developed a vaccine that will prevent most cervical cancer, have improved the treatment of women with breast cancer by individualizing it according to genetic makeup, and have revolutionized the approach to treating testicular cancer.

Researchers at Notre Dame have been equally ambitious, harvesting cancer fighting drugs from Japanese sea slugs, analyzing the chemicals that lead to metastasis of cancer cells, and identifying the precursors to colon cancer and biomarkers that will provide an early diagnosis for that disease. And these are just a few of the innovations that are saving lives.

Longtime Partnership: The University of Notre Dame and IU

Now, as we dedicate Harper Hall, we further strengthen our shared commitment to educating the next generation of health care professionals and scientific researchers. A model of collaboration, this new facility provides a home to the Harper Cancer Research Institute and will enable Notre Dame and IU researchers to continue their search for treatments and cures for cancer, which has touched so many lives. It will bring new faculty members, whose presence will enhance our current research programs, improve our competitiveness for research grants, and strengthen the local economy.

This collaboration between Indiana University and the University of Notre Dame has always been focused on the local community and what is best for the state of Indiana and its people. From those earliest days, the University of Notre Dame opened its doors to the IU School of Medicine, our faculty, and our students, and we are thankful for that welcome. Our partnership found a new home in Raclin-Carmichael Hall in 2005.

We found yet another pathway towards collaboration with the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, or CTSI, established in 2008 with a $25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and additional support from the University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, Indiana University, and the state of Indiana. Like Harper Hall itself, CTSI offers another example of the great possibilities of public/private partnerships. Dean Brater will say more about our partnership with Notre Dame in just a moment.

Special Thanks to University Leaders

We could not have built this collaborative relationship without the leadership of a number of people over the years. First, I would like to acknowledge Father Jenkins, who has brought steady vision, commitment, and great energy to his institution, as well as a will to do what is best for humanity.1 Let me also thank Notre Dame Provost Thomas Burish for his efforts in moving this project forward.

I would also like to acknowledge dean of the IU School of Medicine Craig Brater, who has been one of the staunchest and most effective advocates for the School of Medicine during his tenure. Let me also recognize Dr. Rudolph Navari, whose dual responsibilities as head of Notre Dame’s Walther Cancer Research Center and the IU School of Medicine South Bend truly exemplifies the collaborative spirit that has made this partnership such a success.

Finally, let me thank our legislative leaders for their continuing support. We remain very grateful to the state for appropriating $10 million towards the construction of this marvelous new facility. This investment is testimony to the vision of our state leaders who have, for many years, been strong advocates for the cause of Hoosier higher education and Hoosier health.

The Harper Family: Selfless Generosity

During my remarks, I have mentioned the names of people who, through their leadership and their generosity, have indelibly transformed higher education and medical research in Indiana. A number of those names bear repeating: Robert W. Long, Marilyn and Eugene Glick, Mel and Bren Simon, Joseph E. Walther, Ernestine Raclin. We celebrate all of these great supporters and friends of the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University.

But today, we owe our deepest thanks to the Harper family, to Mike Harper, and to the memory of his wife Josie. Their generous support has made this new collaborative research facility possible. At the heart of their remarkable generosity is a selfless desire to improve the lives of others, and for that we are deeply grateful. This is the true and selfless spirit that drives private philanthropy, which has made such a fundamental difference in colleges and universities, public and private, across the United States.

Touching—and Healing—Lives

In 2008, the American Cancer Society estimated that around 29,000 Hoosiers would be diagnosed with cancer. That is roughly the population of Valparaiso. These are the lives of our family and friends. In fact, my wife Laurie and I both lost our first spouses, John and Andrea, to cancer. We have all been touched, in one way or another, by this disease.

But all of our lives will also ultimately be touched by the research of Notre Dame’s and IU’s best scientists, researchers, and physicians.

Today as we dedicate this building, we celebrate the patients and families whose hope rests on the shoulders of our remarkable researchers. We celebrate the staff members who dedicate themselves with compassion and heart to the health and well being of others. And we celebrate the productive partnership that Notre Dame and Indiana University have built over years of dedicated collaboration.

Source Notes

  1. Father Jenkins became the University of Notre Dame’s seventeenth president on July 1, 2005.