In 2014, Dr. Richard Merkin established a fellowship opportunity for international researchers. The Richard Merkin Visiting Fellowship in Focused Ultrasound brings scientists from around the world to work with the technical and scientific teams at the Foundation on specific research projects. The position fosters collaboration between the Foundation, the Merkin Scholars’ home institutions, and other institutions.
To date, we have welcomed five Merkin Scholars:
- Jean-Francois Aubry, PhD (Institute Langevin in France)
- Dong-guk Paeng, PhD (Jeju National University in South Korea)
- Cyril Lafon, PhD (University of Lyon in France; LabTAU)
- Frederic Padilla, PhD (LabTAU)
- Francesco Prada, MD (Istituto Neurologico Carlo Besta in Milan, Italy)
This year, Dr. Merkin agreed to fund an additional Merkin Scholar, allowing the Foundation to host both a PhD researcher (Dr. Padilla) and a clinical researcher (Dr. Prada).
We recently interviewed Dr. Merkin about his involvement with the Foundation and his passion for focused ultrasound technology.
Richard Merkin is the CEO and founder of the Heritage Group, which, under his stewardship, has become the largest, physician-owned and operated integrated delivery system in the United States with over 50 related healthcare companies. The Heritage Group encompasses numerous patent, venture capital, private equity, and insurance companies.
Dr. Merkin serves on the Board of the California Institute of Technology and the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. He is the Co-founder of FasterCures. He has established the Richard Merkin Foundation for Stem Cell Research and the Merkin Institute for Transformative Technologies in Healthcare at the Broad Institute at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Richard Merkin Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Brain Sciences Institute, the Richard Merkin Foundation for Neural Regeneration at UCLA, and the Merkin Family Foundation Fund for Regenerative Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at USC. He is on the board of the California Nano Systems Institute and serves on many other boards that focus on science, healthcare and finance.
Inspired by the X-Prize Foundation, Dr. Merkin launched the Heritage Health Prize, a $3 million global incentivized competition seeking to achieve a fundamental breakthrough in our ability to predict future hospitalizations. Dr. Merkin supports the Merkin initiative to study payment and clinician reform at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.
Q. What is your connection to the Focused Ultrasound Foundation?
I was introduced to the Focused Ultrasound Foundation through my work with FasterCures and the medical research community. Over the past few years, I’ve had the good fortune of spending time with Dr. Kassell and discussing his work at length.
Q. What moved you to get involved?
I’m excited about the unique and enhanced treatment potential that focused ultrasound may enable. The ability to precisely target delivery of drugs and enable other treatments is very promising. I like to support translational medical research like focused ultrasound.
Q. What excites you most about the Foundation?
The fundamental Research and Development the Foundation is supporting and their ability to leverage contributions into major research.
Q. Why do you care about focused ultrasound?
I believe focused ultrasound might provide a powerful tool for the treatment of several chronic and terminal diseases. The technology may also enable or enhance many other treatment methods.
Q. What impact do you hope to achieve through your philanthropy?
I’m hoping the research that we support will lead directly to treatment opportunities for patients and improve people’s lives.
Q. What do you tell others about the Foundation?
I believe it is an excellent organization. It leverages resources and partnerships very well to multiply its donation support with governmental and other R&D funding. The team is also demonstrating impressive research results.
Q. What would you tell someone who is considering making a gift?
I would strongly encourage them to support the Foundation and highlight the meaningful results it is seeing in multiple disease categories.