Gary and Mary West Add $20M to Their $45M Donation For Wireless Health Institute

5/12/10Follow @bvbigelow

The namesake family foundation that launched San Diego’s West Wireless Health Institute last year with a $45 million donation has just announced another $20 million grant to support biomedical engineering research in mobile health.

Word of the latest bequest from the Gary and Mary West Foundation came out of today’s closed session of the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance Convergence Summit, which is restricted to CEOs and other high-level industry officials who can foot the $1,250-per-person tab to attend the presentations and discussions of long-range strategies in mobile health. The donation is detailed in a press release on the West Institute’s website.

In addition, the West Institute is announcing today that GE Healthcare is joining Qualcomm and Scripps Health as a partner in the institute’s global research, technology, and educational initiatives. West Wireless spokeswoman Michele Guthrie says the GE partnership, like the institute’s partnerships with Qualcomm and Scripps Health, is collaborative and does not involve financial support for the institute’s operations. “We’ve agreed to work on a variety of projects together,” Guthrie says. The non-profit medical research institute has been forging such partnerships to help advance the emerging field of wireless health, with a goal of improving healthcare while reducing costs.

It took the West Institute nearly a year to recruit former Johnson & Johnson executive Don Casey as its inaugural CEO. Casey discussed the grant at a luncheon presentation today during the WLSA Convergence Summit. Last month, the institute also named a former J&J vice president of emerging technologies, Joseph Smith, as its chief medical and science officer. In recent months, the West Institute also named former Cardinal Health strategist Amir Jafri as its chief operating officer and Mitul Shah, who led technology partnerships at the United Nations Foundation, as its senior director of engineering programs and partnerships.

With much of the institute’s senior administration in place, and a sign attached to the outside of the organization’s remodeled building, the West Institute is clearly moving to identify which technologies and services to push in its effort to advance the field of wireless healthcare. The institute also plans to provide contract services to companies developing innovations in mobile health technologies

The additional $20 million grant from the Gary and Mary West Foundation is intended to support internal research and development, as well as a post-doctoral program, all of which is overseen by Mehran Mehregany, who is executive vice president of engineering and chief of engineering research. In a statement released by the institute, Mehregany says the grant “allows us to continue to bring top talent in a broad spectrum of fields to the institute, and gives a major boost to our development efforts.”

Mehregany’s team is focused on three core areas: applied research, engineered solutions, and advanced training. Guthrie says the $20 million grant also allows institute administrators to take a long-term approach in determining how to make the institute financially self-sustaining.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • http://bytesland.com Bytes Land

    I knew that West and his wife, Mary, created the West Wireless Healthcare Institute with a $45 million donation in March 2009 and was really glad to learn about this new grant. In a press release Gary west said that the institute’s leadership team is in place, and their mission to lower healthcare costs has been clearly defined. It is now really imperative to drive internal innovation that ensures lower cost solutions are entering the marketplace as quickly as possible. Unfortunately too few people are able to make such donations, but they are so necessary.