$100M gift to create University of Chicago health institute

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago-area family is giving $100 million to establish an institute at a medical center that seeks to boost efforts to improve health and prevent disease by optimizing the body's own defenses.

It's the biggest single gift supporting University of Chicago Medicine.

The gift, announced Wednesday, will create The Duchossois Family Institute at University of Chicago Medicine. It's from investment business The Duchossois Group Inc.'s Chairman and CEO Craig Duchossois, his wife, Janet, and The Duchossois Family Foundation, which is made up of family members and the patriarch, Richard L. Duchossois, who is the chairman of the Arlington International Racecourse. The Duchossois family has given smaller amounts to the school in the past.

The wellness center will seek to support research and interventions based on how the human immune system, microorganisms and genetics interact to maintain health. Craig Duchossois said wellness is not just about treating disease after it takes hold.

"The whole concept of developing something through the microbiome that's proactive, rather than reactive, rang our bell. The opportunity to use students, the opportunity to recruit some of the world's greatest researchers, the opportunity to partnership with all of the resources in the University of Chicago," he said.

University of Chicago president Robert Zimmer said in a statement the institute will use "the creativity and skill of university researchers across many fields in bringing new perspectives to medical science."

The family hopes this research will help result in ways to prevent things like food allergies and possibly develop antibiotics that would help lessen the effects of diseases like Alzheimer's.

The institute will be fully up and running once they find a director and hire several more researchers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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