Hall foundation pledges $75 million to hospital

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City will receive $75 million from the Hall Family Foundation to build a medical research building if voters approve a half-cent sales tax for such research.

Jackson County residents will vote in November on the proposed sales tax, which could raise up to $800 million for medical research over 20 years.

Also Wednesday, the National Institutes of Health announced it would provide a $5.9 million grant to help develop a diagnostic technology from Children’s Mercy for use in neonatal intensive care units nationwide.

Donald J. Hall, chairman of the Hall Family Foundation and Hallmark Cards Inc., said in a statement that the $75 million would be used for constructing the medical research building, which would allow the sales tax revenue to be used to hire scientists, researchers and support staff. The commitment would be the largest pledge ever made by the foundation started by the Hall family, founders of Hallmark Cards Inc., The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/1ajjnvP ).

If the tax passes, a four-story building would be constructed on the Children’s Mercy campus. The Institute for Translational Medicine of Jackson County would occupy 80,000 square feet on two floors.

The sales tax, which would increase the cumulative sales tax in some parts of Jackson County by more than 10 percent, is expected to raise $40 million a year, with $20 million per year supporting researchers at Children’s Mercy and $8 million each for St. Luke’s Hospital and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The remainder would be used for related economic development, such as training at the Metropolitan Community Colleges.

The NIH grant would broaden the use of a technology called STAT-Seq, meaning fast sequencing. It uses a high-speed genetic sequencer to read the genes of an infant’s DNA to help find any of the 7,000 genetic diseases that affect children. It generally takes weeks to decode a child’s DNA but the STAT-Seq can find answers in as little as 50 hours.

The technology was developed by researcher Stephen Kingsmore, director of Children’s Mercy’s Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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