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Charlotte businessman’s gift to help partnership find MS cure

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS ó The National Multiple Sclerosis Society on Thursday will announce a partnership with the N.C. Research Campus to find a cure for multiple sclerosis.
Charlotte businessman Herman Stone, president of Stone Theaters and former owner of Consolidated Theatres, will make the lead donation to a new campaign that aims to raise $5.2 million for MS research.
Campus founder David Murdock, billionaire owner of Dole Food Co., will join Stone and Lori Hurd, president of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National MS Society, at the Core Laboratory where the initial research will occur.
“This campaign to cure MS is one of our most exciting early research efforts,” Murdock says on a Web site detailing the campaign.
Dubbed “On the Shoulders of Giants: The Carolina’s Campaign to Cure MS,” the campaign will raise funds to support Dr. Simon Gregory’s work at the Research Campus.
Gregory, an assistant professor at Duke University’s Center for Human Genetics, is developing methods to identify the genes responsible for complex disorders like MS, which attacks the central nervous system.
His lab is up and running at the Research Campus, a $1.5 billion biotechnology complex in downtown Kannapolis.
Because the facility is already built, “all money raised from this campaign will directly fund Dr. Gregory’s research and approved MS research partners in finding a cure,” Hurd says on the campaign Web site, www.msgiants.org.
Gregory’s team has identified some genetic markers for MS. His current research focuses on turning off one of the culprit genes.
“The discoveries he and his colleagues have already made have been heralded as the most significant advances in the field of MS genetics in the last 20 years,” the National MS Society says.
Stone, who has two children with MS, will chair the campaign.
“Thanks to Mr. Murdock and his generosity, the best-in-the-world research facilities and equipment now exist,” Stone says on the Web site.
The public-private partnership includes the Duke University Translational Medicine Institute, which runs a long-term medical research study that Murdock launched in 2007 with a $35 million gift to Duke. Multiple sclerosis is one of several chronic diseases that researchers will study.
Stone convinced Murdock to add MS to the list of diseases in the study, according to the Web site.
The collaboration with Stone, Duke University and the National MS Society “is exactly the type of public-private partnership I envisioned for the NCRC,” Murdock says.
The amount of Stone’s gift will not be released until Thursday. Murdock called it a “generous investment.”
The campaign Web site allows people to make an electronic donation with a credit card.

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