Health & Medicine


"Pittsburgh lost more babies in 1920 in proportion to its births than any other of the large American cities for which reliable records are available....Approximately this means a loss during infancy of 1 life out of every 9.  For the same year, Boston had 1 infant death to 10 births; Philadelphia, 1 to 11; New York, 1 to 12; and Seattle, 1 baby death for 18 births - a rate twice as favorable as Pittsburgh."  Excerpt from Infant Mortality in Pittsburgh: An Analysis of Records for 1920 With Six Charts by Glenn Steele.  Today, statistics are much better. In 2010 in Allegheny county, the five-year rate of 7.5 deaths for every 1,000 live births is not far from the national average.  However, substantial disparity among race is evident with 14.5 deaths per 1,000 occurring in African-American populations.  Infant morality is defined as the death of an infant before its first birthday and primary results from birth defects, pre-term birth, low birth weight, maternal pregnancy complications, sudden infant death syndrome, and injuries.

A $10 million Foundation grant over five years to Magee Womens Research Institute and Foundation is supporting three separate projects around infant mortality: launch of the Magee Summit and Prize, a competition  and international summit to identify and support the world's most promising reproductive science researchers with a $1 million research prize; a commitment to basic research, data analysis, and clinical care expertise related to infant mortality; and the Magee Obstetrical Maternal Infant (MOMI) databank, which enables predictive modeling - using data mining and probability - to forecast outcomes based on various interventions.

To support the work at Magee Womens Research Institute, the Foundation made a $725,000 grant to the University of Pittsburgh for their Department of Biomedical Informatics to develop a tool to estimate infant morality risk and survival time based on an infant's risk profile, and a $640,000 grant to RAND Corporation to identify appropriate and effective interventions for families with a high risk of infant morality.

A $6 million grant payable over three years from the Foundation to the Allegheny Health Network is helping to create a comprehensive diabetes institute aimed at combatting Type II diabetes, which is at epidemic proportions and affects 300,000 people in the southwestern Pennsylvania region.


In 1974 with a class of four, Latrobe Hospital started the Family Medicine Residency program in direct response to the growing need for well-trained generalists to care for families throughout the Westmoreland county region.  The class has since grown to a complement of 24, and the program has been a reliable source of quality family physicians for area communities with 80% of the resident physicians staying in the region.  Over the years, changes in healthcare have had a profound impact on how healthcare is delivered to the individual.  A study performed by the hospital found that to meet the region's current and future healthcare needs, a contemporary, ambulatory Patient-Centered Medical Home is required.  The result is a new facility, centrally located, which will house the Primary Care Physicians' three-year residency program, specialty physician practices, and an array of diagnostic equipment.  Within this new three-story complex, knows as Excela Square of Latrobe, the Residency program will be surrounded by all of the services most needed for optimal patient care in a single location.  Here primary care physicians will be able to consult with specialists, point patients to diagnostic testing onsite or direct them to rehabilitation services, all under one roof.  The Foundation contributed $5,000,000 to this effort.

Building on a grant made in 2005 to the Children's Home of Pittsburgh, the Foundation contributed $1 million to expand the Pediatric Specialty Hospital.  This grant increased the capacity from 16 beds to 30 beds and the hospital can now help patients with a wide variety of diagnoses transition from hospital systems in the area so patients can see the same doctors from their referring hospitals.


Again in 2014, the Foundation supported the operations of North Side Christian Health Center with a grant of $500,000 over two years.  The same year, the Foundation also made a gift of $156,000 to Pittsburgh Mercy Health System toward two-year support of a registered nurse care manager to help patients, especially those with barriers, navigate the healthcare system.


A $500,000 grant over two years from the Foundation to East Liberty Family Health Care Center, Inc., supported operations and capital needs for the Center, which provides community-centered, whole-person healthcare, with a focus on serving all patients, especially the uninsured, underinsured and underserved.  In addition to medical, dental and mental health services, the Center offers essential services such as pediatric outreach to help new young mothers learn to take care of their children; homebound elderly visits; and street ministry to help individuals maintain their sobriety.  Overall, the Center provided more than $2 million in unreimbursed care in 2013.


A $300,000 grant over two years from the Foundation helped establish the Center for Prevention of Community Violence within the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health's Center for Health Equity.  The strategic alignment among high-quality research, broad-based education, and training of community-based organizations and leaders will, over time, result in a decline in community violence.


A Foundation grant of $650,000 to Primary Care Health Services (PCHS) at Homewood's Alma Illery Medical Center helped PCHS secure an additional $12 million in federal funding for facility and equipment upgrades, enhancing the medical, dental, mental health, and laboratory services it provides to more than 22,000 pediatric and adult patients each year.


A grant of $500,000 to Latrobe Area Hospital Charitable Foundation supported the purchase of digital mammography and ambulance equipment, building on the grant made by the Foundation in 2008.


The Midwife Center for Birth and Women's Health received a grant of $100,000 to provide care to uninsured and underinsured women and infants, as part of the Midwife Center's Beginning Campaign.


Ligonier Valley Ambulance Service operated from the same location in Latrobe since 1972.  The building housed two ambulances and all of the related ambulance and medical equipment to serve the residents of the Ligonier Valley.  The Foundation awarded $1.2 million to Latrobe Area Hospital Charitable Foundation for new construction and renovations to the building, enabling it to enhance its tradition of service excellence to the local community.

A Foundation grant of $250,000 to North Side Christian Health Center supported renovation of a new space after the health center took over the primary health center for residents of Northview Heights Public Housing development when the existing private physician practice closed its doors in 2007.  The renovated space more than tripled the health center's operation capacity and allowed the addition of more financially sustaining activities, including pediatrics and a dental clinic.


The Richard King Mellon Institute for Pediatric Research was established through a groundbreaking gift from the Foundation.  In 2006 and 2007, the Foundation contributed $23 million to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh to build an incubator for research that challenges conventional wisdom and can lead to paradigm shifts in pediatric medicine.  This kind of high-risk, high-impact investigation is not typically funded through government or conventional sources, placing Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC in a unique realm of pediatric research centers.  This grant was made to position Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh as a world leader in molecular and cellular biology research of childhood disorders and illnesses and would attract the brightest, most talented young researchers to Pittsburgh.


A $300,000 grant from the Foundation to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center McKeesport supported renovations of the Kelly Building, allowing expansion of the nursing programs, increasing the hospital's patients rooms, and providing space for specialty physicians.


The Children's Home of Pittsburgh Pediatric Specialty Hospital was originally founded in 1984 as Transitional Infant Care Hospital (TIC), to care for premature and medically fragile infants who were transitioning from a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to home.  In 2005, the Foundation contributed $1 million toward a campaign that helped TIC relocate just blocks from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.  The contribution also supported an expansion of its facility in 2007 and a transition of its unique model of care to serve patients up to age 21.  The only hospital of its kind in Pennsylvania, it provides family-centered care in a home-like atmosphere.  Licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Pediatric Specialty Hospital offers a transitional setting to bridge between hospital and home for infants, children and their families.

In 2005, Latrobe Area Hospital embarked on a multi-year project to upgrade its emergency department, part of an $8.2 million project.  The 25-year-old Emergency Department was built to handle 27,000 patient visits per year, but at this time was over-extended to 37,000 patients.  Plans included relocating the Emergency Department within the hospital in order to achieve a facility that can better serve current and projected numbers of patients.

A grant of $125,000 from the Foundation to East Liberty Family Health Care Center helps the organization serve residents in poor communities in Pittsburgh's East End, addressing needs of the homeless and alcohol and drug addicted, and offers pediatric and prenatal services through outreach in the community.


A Foundation grant of $200,000 to Forbes Regional Hospital supported a capital campaign for a new hospice building.  Forbes Hospice, a division of Forbes Regional Hospital, seeks to preserve dignity in the last stages of life by providing state-of-the-art hospice care.


A grant of $30,000 from the Foundation to Family Hospice provided operating support for a new pediatric palliative care program.  The program, like others offered by Family Hospice and Palliative Care, enhances the quality of life for terminally ill patients and their families by providing palliative and supportive care, primarily in patients' homes.


An additional $1.25 million grant was made in 2002 to the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine toward a $6 million fit-out of the space, which requires isolation and shielding from the powerful magnetic imaging devices.

The Foundation also awarded a $75,000 grant to Mitchell County Hospital to help meet a challenge grant for needed facility renovations.  The hospital, a 33-bed healthcare facility, delivers quality and cost-effective healthcare services to the community in Camilla, Georgia, regardless of patients' ability to pay.


A $2 million grant was awarded to University of Pittsburgh, McGowan Center for Artificial Organ Development to construct its new facility on the former LTV South Side Work's site.  Now known as the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine, it serves as a single base of operations for the university's leading scientists and clinical faculty working in the areas of tissue engineering, cellular therapies, and artificial and bio-hybrid organ devices.


As part of University of Pittsburgh's Campaign 1998 effort, the Foundation offered $4 million of an $11 million gift toward the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and the Health Sciences Discretionary Fund.

In 1998, Magee Women's Health Foundation received a $1 million award to establish the Chair in Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Services.  Up to this point, Magee Women's Hospital had received over $1.6 million for projects such as the establishment of a maternal/fetal intensive care unit, neonatal physiology research, and programs to extend healthcare to women living in poverty.

Family House received a $200,000 challenge grant from the Foundation to support the Family Assistance Fund, which helps to provide a "home away from home" for adult patients and their families who travel to Pittsburgh for medical treatment.


A Foundation grant of $200,000 to the Rehabilitation Institute of Pittsburgh supported start-up funding for Child's Way, a joint program between the Rehabilitation Institute and The Children's Home of Pittsburgh to provide therapeutic daycare for medically fragile children from birth to three years of age.


A gift of $3 million to the Center for Neural Basis of Cognition, and another $3 million the following year brought the Foundation's support for this unique academic partnership to $12 million, helping to increase the critical mass of scientists working in this important field and fostering interdisciplinary research.


A $6 million joint gift to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University establish the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, dedicated to the study of cognitive processes - learning and memory, language and thought, perception, attention, and planning.


By 1992, both the Charitable Trusts and the Foundation contributed to hospital building and medical programs all over Western Pennsylvania.  This includes gifts totaling over $3 million to the Latrobe Area Hospital, which was included among the one hundred best hospitals in the country five years later.  The Foundations first $1 million gift to the hospital came in 1992 in honor of Dr. John R. Mazero, former medical director and president of the hospital's foundation.  With this grant, Latrobe Area Hospital coordinated children's health services in Westmoreland and Somerset counties with the nationally renowned Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.  This collaboration now allowed local doctors and the Child's family to consult with specialists at Children's by, for instance, viewing a test on a computer screen in Pittsburgh as it is being done in Latrobe.


By 1988, the Foundation had given $14 million to the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, together with another $1.5 million to endow a chair in pediatric hematology/oncology research at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.


The Foundation announced a gift of $3 million to the University of Pittsburgh to establish the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (PCI), a consortium of Pitt, CMU, and the hospitals comprising the University Health Center of Pittsburgh.  This would be their first gift of a total of $16 million to the Institute spanning the next 15 years.  Today PCI is knows as the Hillman Cancer Institute and is a comprehensive center dedicated to applying the latest knowledge to the diagnosis and treatment of all types of cancer.


The Foundation awarded an additional $600,000 to Harvard in 1982 in support of the health policy division, and an additional $150,000 to the Allegheny Conference for Pittsburgh Health Policy Institute.


Harvard University received a $500,000 gift from the Foundation toward establishing the Division of Health Policy Research and Education and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development received $75,000 to help establish the Health Policy Institute based in the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.


With a $1.5 million grant to University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the Foundation had made grants of $8 million to help the University Health Center of Pittsburgh and its members operate as a more integrated corporation.  These gifts brought the total of Richard K. Mellon family giving to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to $32 million in 30 years, raising the quality and standards of medical education, medical research, and hospital patients care in western Pennsylvania and beyond, wherever graduates of the health schools have gone to practice or teach.


Upon the retirement of Dr. F. Sargent Cheever as vice chancellor the Health Professions of the University of Pittsburgh, the Foundation gave a gift of $300,000 to establish the F. Sargent Cheever Distinguished Professorship.  In addition to honoring Cheever, the first president of the University Health Center, the fund was designed to attract and retain individuals with outstanding abilities.


In 1973, the Foundation awarded $1.5 million in support of education in ophthalmology and otolaryngology at the former Eye & Ear Hospital, a member of the University Health Center.  Today, the internationally recognized Departments of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology attract research funding to Pittsburgh and provide patients with comprehensive, state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment.  The Department of Ophthalmology recently ranked eighth in the country for National Institutes of Health funding for departments of ophthalmology and has one of the top basic and clinical research programs in the country, and the Department Otolaryngology is currently ranked third amongst otolaryngology programs attracting research funding.


Dr. Henry T. Bahnson, professor of surgery at The Johns Hopkins University arrived in Pittsburgh in 1963 to chair the department of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, which was the recipient of nearly $14 million in funding from the Richard King Mellon Charitable Trusts. In 1968, Dr. Bahnson performed Pennsylvania's first heart transplant in Pittsburgh, setting the stage for the University of Pittsburgh's Transplantation Institute to become the largest transplant program in the world.

1950s & 1960s

Richard K. and Constance Mellon personally donated more than $6 million to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine between 1950 and 1966, which enabled the school to appoint nationally recognized scientists as department heads and to develop a distinguished full-time, rather than part-time, physician faculty.  These, along with gifts to other organizations, demonstrate the Mellon's strong commitment to the health and welfare of our region.

From its founding until 1962, the Richard King Mellon Foundation approved grants of $2.5 million to the University of Pittsburgh Schools of Health Professionals.  The first grant ($1.25 million), made at the beginning of the Health Center's post-war expansion and improvement program, went to the University's Medical School and was devoted primarily to strengthening of faculty salaries.  The second grant ($1 million) was used to strengthen the School of Medicine in physiology, and the third grant ($250,000) helped to complete the purchase of the municipal hospital, now renamed Salk Hall, the site of Jonas Salk's polio research lab.


Health and Medicine has always been at the forefront of Richard King Mellon Foundation's priorities.  The first meeting of the Board of Trustees was held in December 1947 and nearly 45% of grants made that year were made to hospitals and disease research.  Grants this first year were made to Children's Hospital, the Industrial Home for Crippled children, Newsboy's Crippled Children's Fund, Tuberculosis League of Pittsburgh, and Western Pennsylvania Hospital.


In the early 1900s, Richard Beatty Mellon worked to establish a close working relationship between the Western University of Pennsylvania - today the University of Pittsburgh - and the local hospitals.  Richard Beatty Mellon's vision was shared by the Foundation's Trustees, who had long believed that the community would receive better and more cost-effective healthcare if the University of Pittsburgh and its schools of the Health Professions would cooperate more closely with the five teaching hospitals nearby - Presbyterian University, Children's, Eye and Ear, Magee-Womens, and Montefiore, as well as Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.  Over time, this strategy led to the formation of the University Health Center of Pittsburgh in 1965.  The six institutions agreed to coordinate their activities and planning to "promise the operation and growth of an efficient, well-rounded, and effective community and regional health resource."  Today this resource is UPMC Health System, a merger of Presbyterian University, Eye and Ear, Montefiore, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic as well as many of the leading hospitals in southwestern Pennsylvania, such as Shadyside, St. Margaret Memorial, and Passavant.

The search for excellence in healthcare, medical education and medical research is a story in which the Richard King Mellon Foundation is gratified to play a significant part.  Hospitals and medical schools throughout Western Pennsylvania and the United States have expanded their size and quality with gifts from the Foundation, the Charitable Trusts and General Mellon himself.  But it is the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the Medical Center which have benefited most from the Richard King Mellon family's philanthropic leadership in healthcare.  Gifts to medical programs at the university have totaled over $70 million during the Foundation's first 70 years.  The result is a city that has become world renowned for medical excellence...and an unparalleled increase in the quality of healthcare available to the people of this region.