Changing the future of arthritis

Walter and Maria Schroeder smiling

Walter and Maria Schroeder. Photo by Cavouk.

$25-million gift will create new arthritis institute at UHN

As Dr. Mohit Kapoor describes, the journey toward creating a world-leading arthritis institute at UHN has been years in the making. After his appointment to Arthritis Research Director at UHN in 2017, he and his colleagues spent many hours envisioning the future of arthritis research at UHN.

What they wanted most was sustainability and a name to put on this institute. And now they have it, thanks to a $25-million donation from Walter and Maria Schroeder.

“Maria and I have put a great deal of thought into making this gift and ultimately we were persuaded by the vision and leadership of Dr. Kapoor and the arthritis team at UHN,” says Walter. “We want to be part of an effort that will finally end unnecessary pain and suffering from arthritis and related conditions.”

The Schroeder Arthritis Institute will consolidate arthritis research, education and clinical care at UHN. “Our vision for the Schroeder Arthritis Institute is to have worldwide impact through early diagnosis, innovative treatment, and prevention of musculoskeletal diseases including autoimmune, rheumatic, bone, joint and spine conditions,” says Dr. Kapoor, who will be the Co-Director of the Institute.

“The Schroeder Arthritis Institute will be home to Canada’s largest arthritis network, integrating UHN’s three pillars: research, education and patient care, embedded in our Hand, Orthopedics, Osteoporosis and Rheumatology clinical programs,” says Dr. Robert Inman, Medical Director of the Arthritis Program. “It will be the leading entity in Canada to provide a multidisciplinary comprehensive approach to the management of bone, joint and connective tissue diseases.” Dr. Inman will serve as the Schroeder Arthritis Institute Co-Director in partnership with Dr. Kapoor. “Our goal is to provide the best patient care while we pursue a cure, advancing this care across the spectrum of diseases, and from the clinic to the community.”

The primary motivation for Walter and Maria Schroeder is supporting top scientific talent. Funds from the donation will be used to provide critical salary and infrastructure funding for the Institute, which comprises of 51 scientists and clinician-scientists, 113 trainees and 200 staff.

Dr. Mohit Kapoor and Dr. Robert Inman smiling

Dr. Mohit Kapoor and Dr. Robert Inman. Photo by Tim Fraser.

“A stable, secure source of funding is paramount to retaining our top-tier scientific talent,” says Dr. Kapoor, who holds the Tony and Shari Fell Platinum Chair in Arthritis Research. “This is why Walter and Maria’s gift is so important for us. It gives us a rock-solid foundation that will empower our bright young scientists to fully reach their potential as world-leading investigators,” says Dr. Kapoor.

Philanthropy has played a major role in enabling the birth of the Institute over the past 10 years through the Campaign to Cure Arthritis, which has now raised more than $100 million. The campaign was first co-chaired by Tony Fell and Bryce Douglas. It is now co-chaired by Tina Buchan and Jim Leech.

“We are tremendously proud and tremendously grateful that Walter and Maria have chosen to build on their past support to UHN with this transformational gift,” said Tennys Hanson, Chief Executive Officer of Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation. “This announcement is wonderful news for our clinicians and researchers who will comprise the Schroeder Arthritis Institute.”

The Schroeders’ past giving includes a $3-million donation in 2017 to establish the Walter and Maria Schroeder Osteoarthritis Innovation Fund. A successful career in the financial industry influenced Walter’s decision to set up a private family foundation that would take an entrepreneurial approach to charitable giving.

“Maria and I want our donation to accelerate progress in the field of arthritis research. Over the past three years, we have been impressed with the work that is leading to new treatments and a diagnostic test. These will be game-changing discoveries for Canada and beyond,” says Walter.

He expands on the urgent need for private funding: “We also want Canadians to be aware of significant role of philanthropy in advancing medical discovery. Donations to research are critical right now, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. Supporting medical research brings tremendous benefits to our society as a whole.”

The Schroeders’ motivation in making this gift is also a result of their deep concern about the sustainability of Canada’s healthcare system. “Hospitals rely heavily on private donations to fund medical research and state-of-the-art equipment,” Walter notes. “Without adequate government funding, it’s up to us to fill this void.”

Read the full media release for more details.