March Of Dimes Honors Founder FDR at Presidential Library Launches Research Campaign to End Premature Birth

Hyde Park, New York | Thursday, April 10, 2014

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The March of Dimes unveiled a new exhibit commissioned to tell the story of its history and that of its founder – FDR – today at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, N.Y. Created to celebrate the March of Dimes 75th Anniversary in 2013, the exhibit includes an interactive touch screen that highlights FDR’s personal struggles with polio, the Foundation’s scientific breakthroughs and celebrity support. Major donors to the FDR Legacy Campaign also are listed.

“Congress honored FDR and commemorated his founding of the March of Dimes by placing him on the U.S. dime in 1946, but few people remember this today,” says LaVerne H. Council, Chair of the March of Dimes Board of Trustees, “The FDR Legacy Exhibit stands as an enduring testimonial to this important aspect of FDR’s life’s work.”

The March of Dimes was founded by FDR in 1938 to combat polio. The March of Dimes funded the discovery of the Salk and Sabin vaccines, and launched an immunization campaign that eliminated polio from the United States by the 1970s. In 2013, there were 404 cases worldwide.

“FDR also was famous for articulating “Four Freedoms” – freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from want and fear. But his living legacy in today’s world is the fight for freedom from disease,” says March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer L. Howse.

“The conquest of polio was one of my grandfather’s dearest wishes,” says Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, granddaughter of FDR and National Honorary Chair of the March of Dimes Roosevelt Legacy Campaign. “He would be so proud to receive this recognition and to know that the institution he created – the March of Dimes – continues to improve the health of children today.”

The exhibit also features March of Dimes current work to support medical research and community services to fight birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. Based on seed money raised through the FDR Legacy Campaign, the organization announced that it plans a national research campaign to end premature birth by creating a network of “transdisciplinary” discovery centers dedicated to finding the unknown causes of premature birth. Two centers have already begun work, one at Stanford University, and the other at the collaborative of three major universities in Ohio – University of Cincinnati, The Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University.

”This new national network of research centers will engage hundreds of our nation’s most brilliant scientific and medical minds in a single quest – to discover the unknown causes of premature birth. The approach and scale of this research is absolutely unique. It is unprecedented in the history of prematurity and infant health research,” says Dr. Howse.

Dr. Howse and Ms. Roosevelt were joined at the Hyde Park celebration by John Henry Felix, PhD, president and chief executive officer of the Hawaii Medical Assurance Association and a former chairman of the March of Dimes Foundation Board of Trustees; Peter Salk, MD, son of Dr. Jonas Salk; Louis Sullivan, MD, former secretary of Health and Human Services and chairman of the National Health Museum in Atlanta; James Tobin, author of the The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency.

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family.

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