Leicestershire building tycoon's £500,000 gift to heart research
Leicestershire building tycoon David Wilson has donated £500,000 to a new research centre which could lead the next generation of scientific breakthroughs into heart disease.
The money will help equip the University of Leicester's cardiovascular research centre, which is under construction at Glenfield Hospital.
It will be dedicated to battling heart disease, the UK's biggest killer.
The donation means that a £1m appeal launched in August, and backed by the Mercury, has achieved its target within 10 months. The rest of the money has come from groups and individuals across Leicestershire.
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The gift from the David Wilson Foundation, set up in 1995 to help the community in Leicestershire and beyond, was announced today to the delight of the university and its researchers.
Mr Wilson said: "Too many people die prematurely from heart disease with profound effects on their family and friends.
"The David Wilson Foundation is proud to be supporting the university's world-leading cardiovascular research that will help to improve the health and life expectation of patients and the public in our local communities and beyond."
The ground floor of the centre will be named the David Wilson Biobank in recognition of the gift. The four-storey building, which is due to be completed later this year, will bring scientists, doctors and patients together with the latest equipment. The aim is to speed up research into heart disease and get new treatments to patients quicker.
Professor Nilesh Samani, British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiology at the University of Leicester, is leading the project.
He said: "I've been so very pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm and commitment of all the people in Leicestershire for the Cardiovascular Research Centre.
"The support has been incredible, from small amounts raised at charity walks to this latest, and very large, donation from the David Wilson Foundation. It's very gratifying, especially in the current economic climate."
Prof Samani, who is also a consultant at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: "The research we carry out will impact on the care we are able to provide to patients.
"It will be ultimately benefit thousands of families and patients whose lives have been affected by cardiovascular disease.
"We will also be able to attract the best clinical people to Leicestershire."
Each year, more than 17,000 patients with heart problems are seen at Glenfield Hospital, a specialist heart centre. They will be given the chance to volunteer to take part in research and trials at the new research centre.
The £1 million public appeal was launched to raise cash to equip the centre.
The majority of the cost of building the centre, about £8 million, has come from the University of Leicester.
The British Heart Foundation has given £3 million, with a number of organisations donating the remainder.
Sir Robert Burgess, vice-chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: "We are very grateful for the fantastic support shown by the David Wilson Foundation for our new cardiovascular research centre.
"We are also delighted to recognise the foundation's generosity, and David's commitment to the project and the advancement of heart research, through the naming of the David Wilson Biobank."
Although the £1 million public appeal target has been reached, cash is still needed to help with new equipment.
To donate to the appeal go to: