Murdock gives $50M to NC life sciences center

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 9, 2013

DURHAM (AP) — The 90-year-old leader of Dole Food Company Inc. is creating a permanent fund to sustain the operations of a North Carolina food, agriculture and health research institute which bears his name.

David Murdock said Wednesday he is giving $50 million to the self-named research institute at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis.

“I am committed to doing all I can to advance scientific research that will vastly improve the quality of life for mankind,” Murdock said.

The billionaire, who Forbes magazine estimates is worth about $2.4 billion, was joined by the president of the Duke University Health System and University of North Carolina system president Tom Ross.

Murdock has pumped $600 million into the biotechnology hub and the David H. Murdock Research Institute based there. Scientists are looking for new cancer treatments and preventions based on natural compounds and healthier varieties of fruits and vegetables.

One initiative being done by the institute is a study that organizers hope will get 50,000 participants in Cabarrus County. Scientists want to use genetic and other medical testing to personalize how diseases are treated.

The study is “moving quickly to reclassify human health and disease using molecular technologies and clinical epidemiology,” said Dr. Victor J. Dzau, chancellor of Health Affairs at Duke University. “This gift will enhance the study greatly by providing assurance of a state-of-the-art facility to analyze the biological samples donated so willingly by the local residents who volunteered to participate.”