Patient commits estate gift to advance women’s heart health, skin cancer research and Alzheimer’s caregiver education at USF

The University of South Florida Foundation today announced a $1.8 million endowment to USF Health to fund a professorship of women’s heart health, dermatology research, and health care education programs at Byrd Alzheimer’s Center.

Volunteer and USF Health patient Bruce Mackey made the gift in honor of his doctors Guilherme Oliveira and Basil Cherpelis.

“As a dedicated patient advocate, Bruce Mackey understands the importance of innovation to discover new treatments and improve quality of life,” said USF President Steve Currall. “We are grateful for his generous donation of the estate, which will support the work of our physician scientists to advance health, community and biomedical science in the Tampa Bay region, the state of Florida and beyond.”

Mackey, an octogenarian, logs hundreds of volunteer hours each year for Moffitt Cancer Center, and he owes his vibrancy to working with people — especially patients. He instructs his doctors to help him keep up that pace: “I’m still running around like a 60-year-old, so let’s keep it that way.”

Mr. Bruce Mackey (seated on the left) joins USF Health Senior Vice President and Morsani College of Medicine Dean Dr. Charles Lockwood (seated at right) at the signing of a $1.8 million endowment agreement to support several USF Health programs, including women’s heart health/cardiology, dermatology, and Alzheimer’s caregiver education. Standing from left are Dr. Guilherme Oliveira, director of USF Health Cardiology; dr. Basil Cherpelis, director of USF Health Mohs Surgery in Dermatology; and dr. Gopal Thinakaran, CEO of the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute.

“It’s exciting to see the lasting impact Mr. Mackey is making in so many areas of medicine — cardiology, dermatology and neurology,” said Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president of USF Health and dean of Morsani College of Medicine.

Mackey notes that he lived the American dream, the grandson of immigrants who grew up in Nebraska. He and his wife, Loyce, met on a blind date, and the couple each built successful careers over the course of their 55 years of marriage. Loyce overcame battles with melanoma and metastatic breast cancer and returned to her full life of social activities and tennis. Eight years after her last radiation treatments ended, a fall resulted in painful injuries that ultimately took her life.

In her final days, Loyce encouraged Bruce to spend the rest of his life volunteering for the cancer center that provided her with the best care. He followed her wishes, moving to Tampa Bay and serving on several patient advocacy boards and programs.

Mackey now wants to expand his voluntary and philanthropic support to USF Health.

“Loyce and I had no children, so initially we left our estate to a combination of national health organizations,” Mackey says. “But now I want to know more directly where the money is going. Giving locally to USF Health’s researchers and programs will have a greater impact.”

“We are thrilled to help donors like Mr. Mackey build an incredible legacy through world-class research and programs happening here in Tampa Bay,” said Jay Stroman, CEO of the USF Foundation. “Bruce and Loyce Mackey will be forever connected to the scientific discoveries made and the patients helped by their generosity.”

Mackey’s donation will fund the Bruce E. and Loyce A. Mackey Professorship in Women’s Heart Health, which will fund a physician-scientist to lead a new women’s heart clinic at USF. “Not enough research dollars are going into women’s heart health,” Mackey said.

Since Mackey has lost family members to Alzheimer’s disease, a portion of his donation will also support health care education programs at the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Center. The new fund will be used to expand workshops and support groups, create educational videos, launch a podcast series and develop an online resource library for caregivers of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

Cherpelis, a Mohs surgery expert and director of the residency program for USF Health Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, was Mackey’s first connection to USF. The Bruce E. and Loyce A. Mackey Endowed Fund for Skin Cancer Research will help fund innovations in immunostaining testing and research that can lead to more accurate removal of skin tumors and other cancer cells.

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