University of Alabama medical school gets record $95M gift

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An eye surgeon is donating $95 million to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s medical school in what officials say is the single largest philanthropic pledge in the university’s history.

University trustees announced the gift from Dr. Marnix Heersink on Tuesday. The medical school will be named for Heersink, and the money will be used to establish global health and biomedical innovation institutes, university officials said.

An additional $5 million is being contributed by Triton Health Systems, bringing the total pledge to $100 million.

“On behalf of the School of Medicine and all the people we serve across Alabama, the nation and the world — now and in the years to come — I sincerely thank Dr. Heersink,” medical school Dean Selwyn Vickers said in a statement. “This act of tremendous generosity reflects his heart for service and the scale of our shared ambition for the UAB School of Medicine to be a global leader in biomedical discovery and innovation, medical training, and patient care.”

The money will also help recruit and retain scientists and physicians in priority areas such as pulmonology, oncology and neurology through endowed chairs and professorships, officials said.

Heersink, a cataract and laser refractive surgeon, is co-owner and chairman of Eye Center South in Dothan, Alabama, a medical practice with 12 offices in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. He also has an ownership stake in other companies.

Several of his family members have attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

In a statement, Heersink said he and his wife, Mary Parks Heersink, are appreciative of the education his family received at UAB.

“I have seen that, in all it does, the school strives for excellence, works to expand its reach, and values collaboration and encompassing diverse backgrounds, voices and talents,” he said.