Houston Methodist Hospital has received its largest philanthropic gift in its nearly 100-year history.
Paula and Rusty Walter and their Houston-based company, Walter Oil & Gas Corp., have donated $101 million to the hospital, according to a press release. Houston Methodist will also raise $66 million in matching funds.
“The Walters are treasured members of our Houston Methodist family, so we are deeply moved by their generosity,” said Dr. Marc Boom, president and CEO of Houston Methodist, in a statement. “This gift will fund some of the world’s best physicians and scientists, bringing important cures and treatments to our patients.”
The donation will go toward the following:
- Increasing the number of endowed chairs and other dedicated faculty, research and teaching positions. The hospital plans to bring the number of endowed chairs to 100, and for every $1 million donated by another organization or person, the Walters will match $500,000 up to 50 chairs.
- Expanding neuroscience research program.
- Supporting the Translational Research Initiative, which helps to decrease the time between a scientific discovery and its use in humans.
- Establishing an innovation fund for physicians and scientists to collaborate and find new treatments.
- Supporting employees affected by Hurricane Harvey.
To recognize the Walters’ gift, the hospital will name its new 957,705- square-foot patient tower, scheduled to open in mid-2018, after the couple, per the release. The Paula and Joseph C. “Rusty” Walter III Tower in the Texas Medical Center will be 21 stories and host 366 patient beds and operating room suites. Rusty Walter has served on Houston Methodist’s board of directors since 2006 and was a patient in 2013 after suffering from a stroke, per the release. He enrolled in two clinical trials in the neuroscience research program during his recovery.
“It was during this experience that we saw firsthand how close the field of neurology is to making significant breakthroughs,” Rusty Walter said in the press release. “As I continue to recover from my stroke, Paula and I thought we could help make a difference by supporting research through the Walter Neurological Restoration Initiative.”
This isn’t the first time that the family has given to Houston Methodist. Other donations include: Joseph C. “Rusty” Walter and Carole Walter Looke Presidential Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Disease Research, the Emily Herrmann Cancer Research Laboratory and two endowed chairs for cancer research, the Houston Methodist J.C. Walter Jr. Transplant Center and the Coordinated Stroke Intervention and Stroke Stem Cell Research Program.
In September, the hospital received $15.7 million in grants from the U.S. Defense Department to fund research on treatment for metastatic breast cancer. Also in September, Texas A&M was approved to purchase property near the Texas Medical Center to be used in a partnership the school has with Houston Methodist.