History of the Thaler Center

History of the Thaler Center

During the time in which Myles H. Thaler designed and built the meditation garden between the old and the new hospital a new medical phenomenon was building:  the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The UVA School of Medicine was not involved in the wave of research that swelled to study the epidemic then, but when Thaler was diagnosed with HIV - at that time the diagnosis was essentially a death sentence - he wanted to inspire this beloved University to start studying the condition.

The Myles H. Thaler Center for AIDS and Human Retrovirus Research was established at the University in 1992 through a series of generous gifts from anonymous donors in honor of Thaler.

"Myles knew he wouldn't be around much longer and he wanted this Center to be his legacy."

"Myles knew he would not be around much longer and he wanted this Center to be his legacy," said David Rekosh, PhD, who serves as the Myles H. Thaler Professor and co-directs the Center with his wife, Marie-Louise Hammarskjöld, MD, PhD.

At the time it was started, the Thaler Center was unique at the University. It was unsolicited, and it jump-started a new research program. Over the past 20 years, the Thaler family has continued to be intimately involved int eh Center's activities, and their continued support has helped the Center develop new initiatives.

"The donors were very enlightened," Rekosh said, "They realized that the Center would probably never grow to be very big, given that we are not in an urban area. But they realized the importance of basic research, and they understood that the kind of research we carry on as we try to understand how HIV works has implications for lots of other diseases besides HIV."

"[...] your Center is going to be like the children and grandchildren I'll never have. I just want to do some good. It's not about me."

"My parents probably still hold some hope that this Center is actually going to help me," Thaler told Hammarskjöld and Rekosh before he died. "I am realistic about this. I know it's not, but your Center is going to be like the children and grandchildren I'll never have. I just want to do some good. It's not about me.

 

Source:  "Catalysts for Change" (go to pp.22-26)