Wilson Foundation gives $4 million to UB sports medicine

Gift to fund clinical care and research


President Satish Tripathi says the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation’s $4 million donation to UB sports medicine is actually more than $4 million.

That’s because he believes the donation will only encourage other wealthy alumni and philanthropists to also give back to UB.

“These things really add up and people feel … confident about UB doing a better job with the money and investing in it,” Tripathi said. “So this really is not just 4 million. It’s much boarder than the $4 million.”

Mary Wilson and other trustees of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation gave a gift of $4 million to the UB Department of Orthopedics and Sports Medicine on Thursday afternoon. The donation was announced at the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences at the downtown medical campus.

Wilson and her late husband, founder of the Buffalo Bills Ralph Wilson, gave $1 million to the department in 2011 and this recent $4 million gift has established the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Center of Excellence in Sports Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

The Wilson Foundation is a private foundation based in Michigan. Wilson passed away in March of 2014 and his trustees funded the foundation with $1.2 billion.

Tripathi said the $30 million Jeremy Jacobs gave toward the newly-named Jacobs School of Medicine in September, along with this recent $4 million donation from the Wilsons, show donors feel confident about how UB is investing the money.

Tripathi hopes these recent donations will allow UB to “catch up” to fellow universities.

“There’s limited resources that come from the state and so much comes from other sources,” Tripathi said. “Philanthropy is something we need to increase a lot more of. And that’s where we are behind compared to our peers and we need to go in that direction.”

Some of the UB sports medicine doctors are also physicians for the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bandits and UB Bulls.

Leslie Bisson, June A. and Eugene R. Mindell, MD, professor and chair of the department of orthopedics, said the department focuses on education clinical care and research.

“[This grant] will generate income for education and research efforts,” Bisson said. “It allows us to stay ahead of the latest innovative techniques.”

The department plans on putting the donation to software updates on equipment and teaching residents sports medicine cases.

Bisson said the donation will also support John Leddy, director of clinical research and renowned concussion research. Some funding will be used to support Leddy’s research on diagnosing concussions and its effects.

Bisson said the donation will also go toward a Laparoscopic stimulator for students to work and practice on a virtual knee and shoulder.

John Marzo, MD, associate professor of clinical orthopedics, said this donation will go toward the arthroscopy teaching lab, groundbreaking research in traumatic brain injury and brining the “best doctors” back to Western New York.

“The exposure from the Wilson visiting professorship and other initiatives funded through the Wilson gift has allowed us to attract more highly trained and better qualified trainees, who end up staying in Western New York after their UB teaching experience,” Marzo said.

Tripathi said it’s key for UB to give students a valuable experience so students can have the means to donate and want to give back.

“Most of our donors are former students,” Tripathi said. “We have to work with them. We have to provide for them and give them an experience they remember.”

Tom Dinki and Marlee Tuskes contributed reporting on this piece

Gabriela Julia is the senior news editor and can be reached at gabriela.julia@ubspectrum.com. Follow her on Twitter at @gabrielaajulia.