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Harry Feinstone, ScD, recently made a $2 million commitment to support the work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Infectious Diseases department. His gift came almost 60 years after he helped pave the way for modern treatments of infectious diseases.
When Feinstone called the hospital wishing to make a generous donation, the St. Jude chair for Infectious Diseases, now occupied by Elaine Tuomanen, MD, had yet to be endowed. Feinstone already had a deep interest in infectious diseases—he helped develop the first drugs to combat common bacterial infections. It was a perfect match. “I have a little money and I try to put it to good use,” Feinstone says.
Feinstone and his family moved to America from Pultusk, Poland, in 1921. After graduating from the University of Arkansas, he completed a Chemical Foundation fellowship at The Johns Hopkins University, where he conducted research on a new wonder drug, sulfa. This precursor to modern antibiotics would be a boon to individuals battling bacterial infections. Drugs developed in Feinstone’s laboratory saved thousands of lives during World War II.
After graduating from Johns Hopkins in 1939, Feinstone served as director of the chemotherapy laboratories for American Cyanamid Co. For years, his labs produced most of the world’s clinically useful sulfa drugs. He later served as consultant to several chemical companies, simultaneously managing his own independent research laboratory.
Through the years, Feinstone developed some 400 products for various pharmaceutical companies, including a patented antihistamine drug that was used in a popular cold remedy, as well as in prescription products. Perhaps he is most publicly well known for his patented active ingredient that was used in Di-Gel, Mylanta and others. Retiring in 1976 from a research career in industry, Feinstone accepted an appointment as distinguished research professor at The University of Memphis, working on viral antibiotic activities until his second retirement in 1996.
His gift of $2 million to St. Jude includes an outright gift of $250,000 and yearly payments of the same amount from his charitable lead trust for seven years. These gifts will establish an endowed chair in Infectious Diseases. After the funding is completed, the remaining assets in the trust will benefit Feinstone’s heirs.
“I have always been greatly impressed with all the good work St. Jude was doing,” Feinstone says. “They have some of the best laboratory facilities I have seen.” But it is not just the physical aspects that enflame Feinstone’s scientific mind. “What’s important is the work that is going on there,” he says.
“Dr. Feinstone has saved many lives with the discoveries of medicines in common use today,” says Tuomanen. “His generous gift continues the tradition by enabling the search for even more cures for infectious diseases of children.”
For more information about a charitable lead trust or other type of gift, call the Gift Planning department at (901) 578-2108, or 1-800-877-5833, Ext. 2108.