Medical entrepreneur pledges $1 million to new chemistry building
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A preeminent university should have first-class chemistry facilities. That belief inspired Dr. Howard Sheridan and his wife, Brenda, both University of Florida alumni, to pledge $1 million toward a new chemistry and chemical biology building at UF.
“The current building is not the state-of-the-art facility that the university’s reputation deserves,” Sheridan said, noting that UF’s labs are much as they were when he was a student in the 1960s.
The state has committed $42 million of the building’s estimated $60 million cost, but much of the balance will come from private support. The Sheridans hope their gift will inspire other donors to follow suit. Howard Sheridan graduated from UF in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry; Brenda Sheridan graduated from UF the same year with a bachelor’s in journalism.
The building, which will be located on the southeast corner of University Avenue and Fletcher Drive (Northwest 17th Street), will alleviate crowding and scheduling woes for chemistry classes and provide cutting-edge facilities for UF’s researchers, paving the way for breakthroughs in fields from health care to agriculture.
“Discoveries in medicine and bioscience are based on chemistry,” Sheridan said. “It’s not just beakers and Bunsen burners. It’s the investigation of how biological systems and materials work on a molecular level.”
Sheridan, an interventional radiologist from Fort Myers, is a founder of 21st Century Oncology, a multinational chain of radiation treatment centers. He has long recognized the importance of technology in patient care, bringing the first linear accelerator to southwest Florida in 1979.
His success illustrates chemistry’s role not only in health care but in entrepreneurship and innovation, said David Richardson, interim dean of UF’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“Aspiring health-care professionals take chemistry as a core part of their science education,” Richardson said. “This new building will play a crucial role in preparing students who will go on to make people’s lives better using cutting-edge science and technology — just as Dr. Sheridan has.”
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