sealPurdue News

September 27, 2002

$15 million bioscience center funded

Indiana exec Bindley gives alma mater Purdue $52.5 million

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Indianapolis business and civic leader William E. Bindley today (Friday, 9/27) gave a $52.5 million gift to his alma mater, Purdue University – including $7.5 million that will cover half the construction cost for a new bioscience research center at Purdue's Discovery Park.

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The gift is the largest by a single individual in Purdue history. Most of the money – $45 million – is a deferred gift to fund endowments for faculty chairs, student scholarships and fellowships, and academic programs.

The announcement was made as part of the launch of the $1.3 billion Campaign for Purdue, the largest private fund-raising effort ever by any Indiana university. To date, $615 million has been raised toward that goal.

William E. Bindley

"The significance of Bill Bindley's contribution cannot be overstated," said Purdue President Martin C. Jischke. "The money he is providing will make possible research leading directly to innovations in medicine and science. His gift will enrich education as well as the state of Indiana by encouraging economic development and helping Purdue attract and retain the best faculty and students."

The $15 million Bindley Bioscience Center will house flexible laboratories for a wide range of multidisciplinary research. The center will connect researchers in the life sciences with engineers in the Birck Nanotechnology Center, also being built at the $100 million Discovery Park.

"Purdue is obviously the leading educational institution in the state," Bindley said. "Based on the quality of its research in so many areas – primarily technical, but also pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals – I consider this gift a very sound investment in the future of this state and this nation."

Bindley said he hopes Purdue will be able to leverage the deferred portion of his gift to attract even greater investment.

"I have my eye on the future," Bindley said. "The biggest part of my gift is designed to take advantage of additional fund-raising efforts that would be tied to my gift."

Scientists and engineers from several Purdue schools involved in the new center will pursue work related to areas that include:

• Creating the first computer model of an entire living cell – a bacterium called Escherichia coli, or E.coli. Findings from the international effort – the E.coli Model Cell Consortium – will have numerous applications in a wide range of medical and scientific research. Research based at the center will be critical for the consortium's work.

• Developing superior miniature devices and systems that can be used in the pharmaceutical industry to discover new drugs.

• Creating innovative types of sensors that might be used to diagnose medical conditions and be implanted in the body to monitor bodily processes.

• Making new types of laboratory instrumentation for scientific research and education.

• Harnessing genes and proteins from plant and animal sources to create new medicines and materials.

• Engineering special grafts and synthetic "scaffolds" that will be used to repair and replace human tissues damaged by disease or accidents.

Bindley, who was born in Terre Haute, Ind., says he chose Purdue, in part, because his family was dominated by Notre Dame boosters.

"All my uncles on my mother's side of the family went to Notre Dame," he recalled. "One of my uncles was even one of the Four Horseman. However, Purdue offered an opportunity to combine an education in technology, business and science rather than pursuing a straight business degree.

"That background, in turn, laid a terrific foundation for my career and helped me establish the game plan that has brought me to where I am today."

Bindley graduated from Purdue with a bachelor's degree in industrial economics in 1962. He received an honorary doctorate of management from Purdue in 1997 and completed the Wholesale Management Program at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University in 1966.

He currently is chairman and chief executive officer of Bindley Capital Partners LLC, a private equity firm located in Indianapolis and Naples, Fla. He also is chairman of Priority Healthcare Corp., a national provider of biopharmaceuticals and complex therapies for the treatment of chronic diseases, which he founded in 1994. For the year 2000, it ranked 39th among all U.S. public companies in total return to stockholders.

In 1968, he founded Bindley Western Industries, a pharmaceutical distributor that became a Fortune 200 Company trading on the New York Stock Exchange and was the second largest company in Indiana. In February 2001, Bindley Western was merged into Cardinal Health to create the largest health care distributor in the world, with annual revenues approaching $50 billion. Following the merger, Bindley retired as chairman and CEO of Bindley Western and became a member of the board of directors of Cardinal Health.

A competitive skier, Bindley is a trustee and past president of the U.S. Ski Team Foundation and a member of the executive committee of the National Governing Body for the U.S. Ski Team. He is the former owner of the Indiana Pacers basketball team and has been involved with a variety of boards, many as director, including those for St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, Citizen's Speedway Committee for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, Capital Improvement Board of Managers for the City of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association and Indiana State Chamber of Commerce.

Bindley has served Purdue in many capacities, including as a member of the President's Advisory Council, School of Pharmacy's Industrial Council, the Krannert School of Management Dean's Advisory Council, the Krannert Campaign Cabinet and now The Campaign for Purdue national steering committee. He also was a member of the search committee that brought Richard Cosier to Purdue as dean of the Krannert School of Management.

In 1997, his $1.5 million gift helped fund Krannert's newest building, the $35 million Rawls Hall.

The state of Indiana awarded him its highest honor, the Sagamore of the Wabash award, in 1989 and its Master Entrepreneur Award in 1992, and the Krannert School of Management honored him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1996 and its Business Leadership Award Thursday (9/26).

Bindley and his wife, Mary Ann, live in Naples, Fla., and also maintain a residence in Carmel, Ind.

Purdue's Board of Trustees voted in July to build the bioscience center, a $15 million, 50,000-square-foot facility. Construction on the center is expected to begin in February and be completed in the spring of 2005. Its labs will be unusual in that they will be flexible; multidisciplinary teams of researchers will be able to change the labs to suit specific projects.

"The labs will be able to interchange from biology to chemistry and to bioengineering very quickly, and they will be able to change in size as well," said V. Jo Davisson, co-director of the bioscience center and a professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology.

The center will likely engage researchers from other institutions, such as Indiana University Medical Center, through statewide and national consortia formed to tackle specific types of research. Researchers also will have the opportunity to undertake projects with private industry. Some of the work may lead to new products and the creation of jobs in Indiana. In other cases, the research will focus on basic discovery.

"One mission of Discovery Park is to highlight ongoing research and technology development in a way that encourages engagement with the outside world," Davisson said. "To be successful in this mission, we are attempting to create an environment that fosters innovation and discovery.

"That means some of the problems we will be working on may not immediately be involved in commercialization but are likely to be in the long term."

The center will connect researchers in the life sciences with engineers in the Birck Nanotechnology Center, also being built in Discovery Park. The Bindley Bioscience Center will initiate and facilitate interdisciplinary research that blends life sciences and engineering. Its close proximity to the Birck Nanotechnology Center will enhance the research capabilities within both centers, Davisson said.

The center will support a variety of projects, some of which will explore genomics, which is the mapping of individual genes of living organisms and then determining how those thousands of genes collectively function. The aim is to show how cells are regulated and how they respond to chemicals, mutations, environmental stimuli, age, disease and pathogens. The application of genomics research has great promise, including improved disease resistance of plants and animals, the development and delivery of new therapies, and saving endangered wildlife.

A key area of research in the center will likely be proteomics, or identifying and studying the functions of proteins found in living systems. Learning more about proteins – the "workhorses" of cells – is key to understanding how cells function and why specific genes are activated.

"It's not only understanding which proteins exist at any given time within a cell, but also what their functions are in the living system," Davisson said.

An objective of this work is to create a new generation of devices in the next decade that will allow the rapid analysis of thousands of components in living cells. The work has many potential applications. For example, new instruments might be used in a doctor's office to diagnose and treat patients, in a factory to analyze food, or outdoors to take biological field samples and scan the air for contamination much faster and more efficiently than conventional instruments.

The multidisciplinary nature of the center will be critical to its success because certain types of research must be carried out by a range of specialists in seemingly unrelated fields, Davisson said.

For example, one proposed project calls for developing a new class of tiny devices for screening thousands of drugs concurrently. Such a leap in technology could reduce the cost of pharmaceutical research, while speeding up the discovery of new drugs. The heart of the device will be a 1-centimeter-square chip containing a million individual "reactors," each only one-tenth the diameter of a human hair.

The project calls for a team of researchers in specialties ranging from chemistry and chemical engineering to physics and biology.

"For work in drug discovery to be successful, we have to incorporate a very broad cross section of research areas at the university," Davisson said. "The Bindley Bioscience Center will thread all of those areas into central themes."

The labs will differ from conventional academic labs in that their occupants will change from project to project, and they will be used by multidisciplinary teams, as opposed to a single research group led by one scientist or engineer.

"People will come and go in this building and, as programs live and die, the building will change," Davisson said. "It's a different concept than traditional academic research. The space is going to be assigned to program teams, not single investigators.

"This is about coalescing our research strengths in a different work environment. We are attempting to help people who work in traditional single-investigator modes to expand their research efforts into team-oriented projects. It's where engineering and chemistry and biology all interface."

Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709,

Source: V. Jo Davisson, (7865) 494-5238,

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Purdue University President Martin C. Jischke (from left), Purdue Board of Trustees member Michael Birck and Indianapolis business and civic leader William E. Bindley greet audience members today (Friday, 9/27) after a news conference to announce the university's fund-raising campaign. The Campaign for Purdue, a seven-year, $1.3 billion fund-raising effort, is the largest ever undertaken by any university in Indiana. Also today, Bindley announced a $52.5 million donation to his alma mater, the largest gift from a single individual in Purdue's history. Birck serves as chairman of The Campaign for Purdue. (Purdue News Service Photo/David Umberger)

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