By Simon Isham–

The U of L program for plant-based drug and vaccine development received a $5.5 million grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. The university plans to use the grant to for research into new treatments for cervical and colon cancer, begin clinical trials for these treatments and initiate their commercial production.

U of L President James Ramsey and Director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center Dr. Donald Miller announced the receipt of the grant this morning at Kosair.

“We are extremely grateful to the trust for its support and we look forward to further opportunities to partner,” said Ramsey.

In recent years, the trust, which has a $4 billion endowment, has given to “nonprofits in health and medical research, human services, education, conservation, and the security and development of Israel.”

The trust gave $3 million to the same U of L program in 2010. It has also provided $6 million to other U of L programs.

The trust’s benefactors, Leona and Harry Helmsley, were a business couple whose real estate portfolio included several properties in midtown Manhattan. They were indicted for tax evasion in 1988 by then-US attorney Rudy Giuliani.

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Directly above: John Codey of the Helmsley Charitable Trust with researcher Dr. Nobuyuki Matoba.

Leona Helmsley is pictured at the top of this story. Photos courtesy.