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Bequest from alumnus provides $7.8 million for genetics research at the UI

September 12, 2014

Estate gift contributes to For Iowa. Forever More: The Campaign for the University of Iowa

University of Iowa alumnus Franklin D. Trueblood’s lifelong interest in medical innovation inspired an estate gift that will dramatically enhance cutting-edge genetics research in the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

The $7.8 million gift contributes to For Iowa. Forever More: The Campaign for the University of Iowa, the UI’s $1.7 billion comprehensive campaign. The gift will substantially enhance research, help the UI Carver College of Medicine recruit and retain top faculty, and speed the translation of discovery to patient care for people throughout Iowa and beyond.

Originally from Belle Plaine, Iowa, Trueblood completed undergraduate studies and then earned his law degree in 1925 from the University of Iowa. He established his own law practice in Chicago, where he lived until his death in 1989. It was in Chicago that Trueblood met Elsie E. Foerstner, with whom he shared a close friendship for the rest of his life. When Trueblood died, Elsie Foerstner was named as the lifetime income beneficiary of Trueblood’s charitable remainder trust, with the UI named as remainder beneficiary. Elsie Foerstner’s niece, Abigail Foerstner, says Trueblood always seemed like just another member of the family.

“We all thought of Frank as an uncle,” says Abigail Foerstner. “He and Aunt Elsie just had so much in common. They were soul mates.”

Elsie Foerstner—who is originally from South Amana, Iowa—graduated from the UI in 1941 with a Bachelor of Science in Commerce degree and then moved to Chicago for a job at Kraft Foods. She and Trueblood first met at a UI alumni event in the 1950s. The two remained committed to their alma mater through the years, regularly returning to campus for football games and other events. Elsie Foerstner died in April 2014, at which point the University of Iowa received the remainder of the Franklin D. Trueblood Trust, with funds designated for genetics research in the UI Carver College of Medicine.

University of Iowa President Emeritus Willard “Sandy” Boyd, a longtime friend of Trueblood and Elsie Foerstner, describes Trueblood’s gift as a natural extension of his loyalty to, and admiration for, the UI.

“Frank Trueblood was devoted to the University of Iowa,” says Boyd. “We became good friends through Elsie Foerstner and the University of Iowa Foundation. I saw him often when I served as president of the Field Museum. Frank was always keenly interested in and appreciative of the achievements of his university. His wonderful gift for genetics research will greatly benefit generations to come and remind us always of Frank’s steadfast commitment to his alma mater.”

UI Carver College of Medicine Dean Debra Schwinn calls the gift “visionary,” and says it will boost the college’s efforts in research and patient care.

“Genetics is a crucial area of medicine and increasingly important in determining the correct therapy for an individual patient,” says Schwinn. “This gift is important in making sure that cutting-edge genetic/genomic approaches are used to identify new causes of human disease, ensuring that the best and brightest scientists are recruited and retained in genetic medicine, and making available cutting-edge, clinical, genetic medicine to our patients.”

Trueblood and Elsie Foerstner shared Schwinn’s belief in the vast potential of genetics research, Foerstner says.

“Frank was always interested in medical research,” says Foerstner. “He really kept his eye on developments in innovation and technology. And Aunt Elsie shared his interest in genetics research, especially as it relates to possibly turning the tide on diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

Trueblood and Elsie Foerstner each made financial contributions to various areas of the UI throughout their decades-long commitment to their alma mater. Trueblood’s gifts benefited the University of Iowa Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the University of Iowa College of Law, among other areas. Elsie Foerstner supported several colleges and departments at the UI, including the University of Iowa Press, the University of Iowa Museum of Art, and the Old Capitol Museum. In 1997, her gift to the University of Iowa Henry B. Tippie College of Business established the Elsie E. Foerstner Scholarship Fund. Trueblood and Elsie Foerstner were members of the University of Iowa Presidents Club, which recognizes the most generous contributors to all areas of the university.

About the University of Iowa Foundation

The University of Iowa Foundation’s mission is to advance the University of Iowa and fulfill the aspirations of those it serves. The university’s dedicated contributors fund a broad array of needs, from student scholarships, breakthrough research and life-changing health care to innovative facilities, community outreach and global education.

The UI and UI Foundation are conducting a historic comprehensive $1.7 billion fundraising campaign, For Iowa. Forever More: The Campaign for the University of Iowa, which will secure the UI’s status as a world-class institution for future generations.

The University of Iowa Foundation is the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the University of Iowa. For more information about the foundation and the campaign, visit the foundation website.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Dana Larson, executive director, communications and marketing, the University of Iowa Foundation; 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973;