USC to open Institute on Aging using $7 million gift

The University of South Carolina School of Public Health is already named in honor of Gerry Sue and Norman J. Arnold, its largest benefactors. Thursday, the couple gave the school another gift: $7 million to create a new institute within the school.

Gerry Sue and Norman J. Arnold received a blown glass bowl as a token of appreciation for their gift (photo by Allen Wallace).

Gerry Sue and Norman J. Arnold received a blown glass bowl as a token of appreciation for their gift (photo by Allen Wallace).

The  Institute on Aging will be devoted to research on healthy aging, focusing in particular on young children and older adults. It will include work in areas such as childhood obesity prevention, chronic stroke recovery, nutrition and food safety, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

“Our prayer today is that you too will be blessed with the gift of long life,” Norman Arnold said. He emphasized the help the institute will offer to the underserved. “the word ‘public’ means ir provides to people who don’t receive health advice…That’s an important factor in our gift.”

Arnold School Doctoral Fellow Morgan Clennin is an exercise science researcher, and her work in fighting childhood obesity will continue in the new institute.

“Not all communities are created equal,” she said. “Disparities exist in children’s ability to participate in physical activity. In my future work I hope to eliminate these disparities.”

“Our doctoral program in exercise science was just ranked No. 1 by the American Academy of Kinesiology,” Arnold School Dean Thomas Chandler said. “These additional resources will enable more of our programs to become top ranked, and promote more collaborative efforts across more disciplines. It also will empower our faculty to begin new research projects in promising but unproven directions, and continue the nationally recognized outreach and community service we provide to the people of South Carolina.”

Dr. Julius Fridriksson’s work centers on improving brain functions and communication abilities in people who have suffered a stroke.

Arnold School students and faculty applauded the announcement (photo by Allen Wallace).

Arnold School students and faculty applauded the announcement (photo by Allen Wallace).

“The Institute on Aging has great potential to stimulate ongoing research as well as foster new cutting edge studies in the area of brain health in both normally aging individuals as well as those who have been affected by age-related brain damage,” Fridriksson said. He added that it “brings resources that enable us to look beyond the next step and conduct studies that are perhaps ‘higher risk’ but also bring ‘higher yield’ compared to our work already funded by the National Institutes of Health.”

 

The institute also will enable the Arnold School to increase engagement of students in research.

“The Arnold endowment already supports a large number of PhD student-scientists; the Institute on Aging will further boost this funding, giving even more students access to cutting edge research that is ongoing in the Arnold School of Public Health,” Chandler said.

“Gerry Sue and I have always been interested in being helpful to other people, especially people who are not always able to help themselves. If I can do something that can be useful to others, then that’s what I want to do,” Norman Arnold said. “Good health, eating and exercise go hand-in-hand. It’s easy to do if you have resources, but you’ve got to know what to do.”

 

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