UAB To Rename Medical School Following Record Donation

UAB To Rename Medical School Following Record Donation


BIRMINGHAM, AL — The University of Alabama will give its medical school a new name after a record donation from longtime supporter Dr. Marnix E. Heersink. Heersink gave the school a $95 million gift, for which the university will rename its School of Medicine the UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine.

In addition to the name change, UAB will also establish and name the Marnix E. Heersink Institute of Biomedical Innovation and the Mary Heersink Institute for Global Health.

Heersink is a cataract and laser refractive surgeon and co-owner and chairman of Eye Center South in Dothan, a practice he and John Fortin, M.D., opened in 1980 and now has 12 offices in Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

Heersink and his family opened Health Center South, a 140,000-square-foot medical complex for doctors of all specialties in Dothan. Heersink is also an owner or agent of many other companies, including real estate holdings and manufacturing entities in the United States and abroad. He is a fellow and member of several professional organizations, including the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the International College of Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Mary Heersink serves on the UAB School of Medicine Board of Visitors. She is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Master of Global Health Program, a joint initiative among McMaster University in Canada, Maastricht University in the Netherlands, Manipal University in India and Thomassat University in Thailand.

The $95 million donation to UAB is the largest donation in the history of the university, and Heersink said the medical school’s continued achievements prompted the large donation.

“I have seen that, in all it does, the school strives for excellence, works to expand its reach, and values collaboration and encompassing diverse backgrounds, voices and talents,” Heersink said. “This gift will build on the school’s tremendous momentum and enhance its ability to innovate and deliver on the three E’s (excellence, expansive, encompassing) in a very strategic way. I look forward to a continued partnership in supporting its life-changing work. Mary and I are so appreciative of the wonderful education UAB has given our family and now also look forward to UAB’s increased presence in our hometown of Dothan.”

“This act of tremendous generosity reflects his heart for service and the scale of our shared ambition for the UAB School of Medicine to be a global leader in biomedical discovery and innovation, medical training, and patient care,” UAB School of Medicine’s dean Dr. Selwyn Vickers said. “It is a powerful affirmation of the unlimited potential of our school and reinforces what we have always known: that UAB truly is a world-class institution.”

In just five years, the UAB School of Medicine grew its National Institutes of Health research portfolio by $100 million, one of only eight schools in the country to reach that benchmark.

“We are proud that UAB has played a significant role in the lives of the Heersink family and that they chose to help advance the School of Medicine’s transformative trajectory,” said UA System Chancellor Finis St. John. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, the University of Alabama System and all those we serve, I thank the Heersinks for their record gift, which will further strengthen our systemwide commitment to excellence in teaching, research and service, and expand our positive impact in Alabama and beyond.”

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Elena Johaness

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