The William J. Von Liebig Foundation

Supporting Mayo's Transplant Center and research programs

"Whatever success I have had," explained William J. von Liebig, "I still have a certain drive within me that tells me I must continue to move on and accomplish other things."

Mr. von Liebig achieved many things in his life. He developed a pioneering company, Meadox Medicals, Inc., which helped shape the revolution in medical technology that followed World War II.

He also established a foundation to carry on his creative vision. At Mayo Clinic, the foundation provides leadership support for facilities and research in the field of transplantation.

The William J. von Liebig Transplant Center is located on the ninth and tenth floors in the Charlton Building of Mayo Clinic Hospital, Methodist Campus. It includes a conference room with state-of-the-art technology for communication with Mayo Clinic specialists in Jacksonville, Fla., and Scottsdale, Ariz. Research programs at each site benefit from a shared, integrated database.

Pursuing opportunity

The dynamic creativity of the transplant center at Mayo resonates with the career and values of Mr. von Liebig. He described the entrepreneurial spirit as "recognizing and pursuing opportunity because you have a feeling it can develop into something worthwhile."

Born in Huntingdon, Penn., Mr. von Liebig earned the B.S. degree from Juniata College, the M.S. degree from the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences and the M.B.A. degree from New York University. He was a decorated fighter pilot in World War II and received many national and international awards for his scientific innovations. A loyal patient of Mayo Clinic, he died on Feb. 21, 1999.

In 1961, Mr. von Liebig founded Meadox Medicals, Inc., with an initial investment of $25,000. The company's original facility was in a New Jersey garage. In the years that followed, Meadox Medicals exemplified the synergy between private industry and the medical profession in the formative era when vascular surgery developed as a specialty.

"My philosophy is that we always came out with products to assist the surgeon in giving the patient a better quality of life," Mr. von Liebig explained.

Meadox made many significant contributions -- particularly to the technologic advancement of textile vascular grafts used in the reconstruction and replacement of human arteries. Mr. von Liebig held 33 patents for vascular prostheses.

From its humble origins, Meadox became a world leader in the manufacture and distribution of vascular grafts and other devices to treat cardiovascular disease. When Meadox was sold in 1995, it commanded about 90 percent of the global market in its field.

Philanthropic outreach

Established in 1975, The William J. von Liebig Foundation focuses on medical research, primarily for the treatment of vascular and cardiovascular diseases. The foundation supports unique programs and concepts in medicine -- especially those not funded with major government or private grants. The foundation supports a wide range of scientific initiatives throughout the country.

In 1990, Mr. von Liebig and his wife, Suzanne, moved to Naples, Fla. To honor their active community involvement, the foundation expanded its mission by supporting the arts, education and human services in the Naples area.