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Preface*: Civic Support and Leadership as a Catalyst for Addressing the Problem of Urban Asthma: The Otho S. A. Sprague Memorial Institute’s Asthma Initiative

James N. Alexander, JD
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*From Alexander Associates (Mr. Alexander), Evanston, IL, consultant to the Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute, Chicago, IL.

Correspondence to: James N. Alexander, Alexander Associates, 2129 Central Park Ave, Evanston, IL 60201-1801; e-mail: alexassocs@aol.com



Chest. 1999;116(suppl_2):129S-130S. doi:10.1378/chest.116.suppl_2.129S
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In 1911, the Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute was created by one of Chicago’s civic leaders. In his will, Otho Sylvester Arnold Sprague set forth a clear and simple mission, “the investigation of the causes of disease and the prevention and relief of human suffering in the City of Chicago.” In the days before the National Institutes of Health, the board of the Sprague Institute sought to achieve this mission through the support of a group of scientific researchers whose accomplishments were noteworthy. The difficulties resulting from a volunteer board managing such an ambitious approach ultimately resulted in a shift to the support of biomedical researchers working within various academic medical centers in Chicago. Beginning in 1989, the board diversified its grant-making strategies in pursuit of outcomes that were within the fiscal reach of a mid-sized independent foundation. As is increasingly the case with grant makers, they sought focus and measurable outcomes for their philanthropy. In 1994, the disproportionately high rates of asthma mortality and morbidity in Chicago caught the attention of several board members.

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