Benefactor Stories > Grainger Family: ‘By Supporting Mayo Clinic, We Can Make an Amazing Difference Together’

Grainger Family: ‘By Supporting Mayo Clinic, We Can Make an Amazing Difference Together’

By Brandon Kane

Thomas Grainger understands there is no end to medical discovery. That's why he and his wife, Elizabeth, put their trust in Mayo Clinic to find meaningful answers today — and far into the future.

"Numbers and data are important in my world, and I am highly goal-oriented,” Tom says. “While there is no finish line in medical discovery, an investment in Mayo Clinic yields benefits for years to come.”

A History of Generosity

The Graingers’ philanthropic support includes research programs for urology residents; the kidney cancer registry; and functional genomics, advanced diagnostics and novel therapeutics for bipolar disorder through the Center for Individualized Medicine. It is because of their generosity that these key initiatives have been able to flourish, and because of that generosity, the Graingers are Philanthropic Partners, the highest level of recognition bestowed to benefactors at Mayo Clinic.

“It’s inspiring to see the Mayo philosophy in action as they focus on the specific needs of each patient," says Betsy.

"It's inspiring to see the Mayo philosophy in action as they focus on the specific needs of each patient."

- Betsy Grainger, Philanthropic partner

Mayo Clinic uses a portion of the family's philanthropy for important work studying mood and bipolar disorder — growing a world-class program building upon a large repository of patient data and samples — known as the Mayo Clinic Bipolar Disorder Biobank — and using data generated from it to bring precision care to patients in need.

"We have the best of both worlds thanks to philanthropic support," says Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Mark Frye, M.D., co-principal investigator of Mayo Clinic's Bipolar Disorder Biobank. “We can contribute meaningfully to established multinational data sets and continue to investigate functional genomics in the Mayo Clinic Bipolar Biobank, with its unmatched clinical granularity, supported by the Grainger family. 

"This allows us to take those large-scale datasets and start looking at greater clinical relevance or functionality as it relates to patient care.”

Support Leads to Bipolar Disorder Breakthroughs

Tom and Betsy also launched a fund in 2018 focusing on bipolar functional genomics and drug development, with a mission to further the understanding of mood disorders while creating the tools necessary to revolutionize how physicians diagnose patients.

Through their continued support, the Grainger family has helped amplify functional genomics work to develop new diagnostic tools that help families, physicians and patients find the right intervention in real time. This effort is helping Mayo Clinic researchers understand how and why bipolar disorder occurs, and the generosity of benefactors such as the Grainger family is helping researchers understand the “root cause.”

This unity of support for a common goal is greatly expanding the understanding of disease risk, and according to Joanna M. Biernacka, Ph.D., co-principal investigator of the Bipolar Disorder Biobank, her work with the Grainger family has flourished due to a passion for discovery that allows researchers to follow their data to the next breakthrough.

“Support from the Graingers has allowed us to pursue bipolar disorder research from different angles,” says Dr. Biernacka. “We're conducting comprehensive statistical and bioinformatics analyses of whole genome sequencing data to better understand the different clinical subtypes of bipolar disorder, which allows us to understand the disease in each and every patient.”

A Meaningful Approach

Drs. Biernacka and Frye say the partnership with the family has not only allowed them to follow the data wherever it goes, which is not the case with more rigid grants and structured funding, but also that the Graingers’ passion has motivated them to think and work innovatively.

And that's just what the Graingers appreciate about Mayo Clinic's approach — a multidisciplinary team of physicians and researchers that continues to gather, analyze and leverage massive and unique datasets to make a tangible difference in the lives of patients every day.

“If I had one message, it would be to thank the people of Mayo Clinic who have taken care of us through many storms of life — and to challenge everyone who has experienced Mayo-quality care to join with us,” Tom says. “By supporting Mayo Clinic, we can make an amazing difference together.”

Join us today to bring a transformative new health care experience to more patients who need us. Together, we can build the future of medicine at Mayo Clinic.