UMKC School of Medicine receives $400,000 gift to establish Pulmonary Fibrosis Research Program

Gift comes from the estate of the late Mary K. Geldmacher

The University of Missouri-Kansas City has received a $400,000 gift to establish a pulmonary fibrosis research program at the UMKC School of Medicine. The gift comes from the estate of the late Mary K. Geldmacher, a retired St. Louis school teacher who suffered from pulmonary fibrosis and passed away in 2009. Pulmonary fibrosis is the formation or development of excess fibrous connective tissue in the lungs, commonly described as “scarring of the lung.”

In bequeathing her estate, Mrs. Geldmacher expressed her wish that money from her estate be used to support pulmonary fibrosis research in Missouri’s medical schools. Executors of the estate selected the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine to be the primary beneficiary of Mrs. Geldmacher’s bequest. The gift will be used to establish the Mary Katherine Geldmacher Pulmonary Fibrosis Research Program at the UMKC Lung Research Center.

“The School of Medicine is grateful for this generous gift that will directly support our mission to advance the health of our community,” said Betty M. Drees, M.D., dean of the UMKC School of Medicine. “The establishment of this program will allow us to build on the outstanding research being conducted at the UMKC Lung Research Center and potentially lead to therapies and treatments for patients suffering from pulmonary fibrosis.”

It is estimated that up to 200,000 Americans have pulmonary fibrosis, and the disease is responsible for more than 40,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.

“Unfortunately, there is currently no effective drug treatment of pulmonary fibrosis,” said Gary A. Salzman, M.D., director of the UMKC Lung Research Center. “We have been doing research on pulmonary fibrosis at the Center for the last decade and have made great strides in investigating potential therapies to prevent scarring after an injury to the lung. This generous gift will help us take our research to the next level, eventually to clinical trials.”

Investigators at the UMKC Lung Research Center have discovered that the key to successful treatment of pulmonary fibrosis is to start therapy early in order to prevent irreversible lung scarring after injury. Through extensive research with a wide variety of drugs in animal models, Dr. Salzman and his colleagues found that a commonly used class of blood pressure medications known as angiotensin receptor blockers is effective at preventing scarring in lung tissues, airways and blood vessels. The results of their research have been presented at scientific conferences all over the world and published in numerous journals.

The establishment of the Geldmacher Pulmonary Fibrosis Research Program will allow the researchers to continue their research and develop a pilot study that would set the stage for eventual clinical trials. The program will also include the development of the Geldmacher Pulmonary Fibrosis Registry for the state of Missouri, establishing a framework in which biological samples and physiologic measures from patients with pulmonary fibrosis could be collected and evaluated.

About the UMKC Lung Research Center

The UMKC Lung Research Center conducts basic science and clinical research in lung diseases. The Lung Center’s clinical research focus is asthma. Dr. Salzman has been principal investigator for the American Lung Association’s Asthma Clinical Research Center at UMKC for the last 12 years. The American Lung Association provides funding for 18 Asthma Clinical Research Centers at premier academic medical centers throughout the country. UMKC is a member of this asthma research consortium along with such medical schools as Duke University, Northwestern University, the University of California San Diego and Washington University in St. Louis. Center researchers in the consortium have received more than $15 million in research grants and, since the Center’s establishment in 2000, more than 4,000 patients have been treated in clinical trials.

About the UMKC School of Medicine

The UMKC School of Medicine was founded in 1971 as an innovative combined degree program. From its baccalaureate/MD curriculum to a docent system that emphasizes small group learning, the school has remained a trendsetter in medical education and research. For more information about the UMKC School of Medicine, visit You can also find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.

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