Long legacy: Medical College of Wisconsin connects to the heart of A. O. Smith

Medical College of Wisconsin

One of the A. O. Smith Foundation’s long-time supported organizations, The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and the Cardiovascular Center (CVC), has a history with A. O. Smith that goes beyond collaboration and research.  

Long Legacy, Long History
In 1972, former A. O. Smith Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Lloyd B. Smith, joined the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Board of Directors and soon after became co-chairman, alongside Robert W. Baird Chief Executive Officer, Carlton P. Wilson. The gentleman lead the successful capital support campaign, Project MERIT. Project MERIT was a campaign to expand education, research, and training by moving the MCW from its downtown Milwaukee campus to a newly constructed building on the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center campus west of the city. 

“There was a perceived need by the state and the local community for the existence of a good medical college. There was a real need at that particular time for more physicians in Wisconsin,” Ted Smith explained to the MCW Horizons in 1981 about the purpose of Project MERIT.

Following in the footsteps of this groundbreaking construction and dedication by Ted Smith, the A. O. Smith Foundation continues to support and stay involved with the Medical College of Wisconsin and, more specifically, the Cardiovascular Center, which is housed in part of the building constructed through Ted’s support. 

“Serving as a board member of the Cardiovascular Research Center of MCW, I have had the opportunity to hear firsthand from the doctors doing outstanding original research on heart and vascular disease. Many of these projects result in important findings, which are translated into everyday medical practice to heal and keep us healthy,” Bruce Smith, Foundation board chair and Ted Smith’s son, said.

Medical College of Wisconsin

Hard Work Sees Results
Established in 1992, the Cardiovascular Center is focusing on the prevention, detection, treatment, and cure of cardiovascular diseases. This center alone has accomplished countless breakthroughs and milestones including: 

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) naming the CVC a Specialized Center for Research on Hypertension – one of only five in the US;
  • Being among the top 10 heart centers in the country to receive funding from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHBLI) and the NIH;
  • Discovery of substances produced by brain cells to trigger the growth of new blood vessels, which has given an important clue as to how the brain works to combat the effects of a stroke;
  • Discovery of how the body’s reflexes control the heart and lung systems making general anesthesia safer;
  • Discovery of the critical link between kidney blood flow regulation and the development of high blood pressure;
  • Discovery of techniques used during surgery and after surgery that results in the nation’s best outcomes for a form of pediatric heart surgery; and
  • Discovery of genes that partially govern where fatty deposits develop within the heart’s arteries.

"The Center is a hidden gem here in Wisconsin, and we need to shout out from the roof tops and share the magnificent research being done right here in our own backyard,” Director of CVC Development Ann Wells said. “Along with training future physicians and medical professionals, we’re making a big difference in patient care and future treatments to this devastating disease.”

To enhance these accomplishments, the A. O. Smith Foundation has provided a great amount of support to the Cardiovascular Center Seed Funds. Seed funding is often used by investigators during the earliest and most critical stages of scientific research.  The seed funding helps pay for laboratory supplies, specialized equipment, and staff time needed to gather initial data that serve as the basis for writing competitive grant applications for long-term funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

Who is Lucy?

Medical College of Wisconsin LucyThe A. O. Smith Foundation has also funded the purchase of ‘Lucy,’ named after Ted Smith’s wife. ‘Lucy’ is an Agilent Technologies Liquid Chromatography / Mass Spectrometer (LC/MS), a sophisticated piece of test equipment that analyzes a large range of chemical compounds in biological samples and has high demand throughout the departments of the Medical College.

“The Foundation's donations have promoted the growth and sustainability of this important institution recognized not only statewide, but also nationally. We can all be proud of A. O. Smith’s part in the history of the making of the institution,” Bruce said. 

About the Cardiovascular Center
The Cardiovascular Center is one of the largest in the country and is a leading source of innovative translational research that applies discoveries in the laboratory directly to patients. The Cardiovascular Center takes an interdisciplinary approach to research and clinical care. The CVC mission is to improve cardiovascular health in Southeast Wisconsin and beyond through innovative, cutting-edge research and cost-efficient health care delivery.

Learn more about the Medical College of Wisconsin.