Principal Benefactors: Marcia and Eugene Applebaum

Eugene and Marcia Applebaum

Benefiting patients through research

By Patricia R. Martin

"In the pharmacy business, I saw what new medicines can do for people," says Eugene Applebaum. "It was exciting to see what happened when research benefited the patient."

Throughout his career, first as an entrepreneur who founded and grew Arbor Drugs into a 208-store chain that he sold to CVS Corporation in 1998 for $1.5 billion, and then as a philanthropist, Mr. Applebaum has been at the forefront of supporting advances in health care today and for future generations.

Now, Mr. Applebaum and his wife, Marcia, are providing the leadership for the Mayo Clinic Eugene and Marcia Applebaum Fund for Translational Research in Neuroscience Therapeutics, pathbreaking research that will more quickly help patients at Mayo and around the world.

"People want to know there is hope around the corner," Mr. Applebaum says. "Translational research is the seventh inning of research, and there often isn't enough funding at that point to move the research findings quickly to the patient."

When their gift was announced in 2005, Denis Cortese, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Mayo Clinic, said, "We are sincerely grateful for the Applebaums' generosity and for their significant interest in research. This gift will support physicians who can take the basic research discoveries of their colleagues and figure out how to apply that knowledge to the treatment of their patients. The Applebaum funding will help Mayo Clinic narrow the gap between basic science and patient care because Mayo Clinic marries the lab and the clinic in a way no other organization does. This is innovation at its best."

"This great tradition started with the Mayo brothers," Mr. Applebaum says. "I am happy we are able to help continue it."

Mr. Applebaum first came to Mayo Clinic in 1988, when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Although the research the Applebaum Fund supports may not improve his own health, he wants to be a part of what he calls "the wonderful discoveries that can help people."

"That is the bottom line: helping people," he says. "Mayo is a well-run ship, and I know we are going to get great value. I think Denis Cortese understands that, and we are all on the same page about the importance of translating discovery into action."

In recognition of their extraordinary generosity, the 8th floor of the Leslie and Susan Gonda Building at Mayo Clinic Rochester has been named the Mayo Clinic Eugene and Marcia Applebaum Neuroscience Center. The space will be dedicated in October with family and friends celebrating the occasion. Additionally, the Applebaums' gift of $15 million established two professorships in neurology to be filled later.

For the Applebaums, who live in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and Palm Beach, Fla., philanthropy is "part and parcel of life." He says, "First you take care of your family, then your community. Then you help the nation and the world. This is more than an obligation. It is a privilege."