Macdonald’s Mission


January 2021 STREETWISECoral Gables Magazine by Samira Navas,

What does the University of Miami’s cutting-edge Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute (BioNIUM) have in common with a small children’s dental clinic in the back of the Coral Gables Woman’s Club?
Both were funded by a low-profile Gables foundation that has
been backing both high intensity health research centers and community
health programs. Located on Madruga Avenue on the south side of U.S.
1, the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation has been funding local healthcare initiatives for almost three decades. The foundation is named after one of the founders of Doctors Hospital, Dr. John Temper Macdonald, and was established by his colleagues when he died in 1951. In 1992, when Doctors Hospital was sold to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Corporation for $12 million, the foundation used the proceeds to become a grant-making nonprofit.

Aldo Busot Chairman of the Foundation: So far $47 million has been granted to 300 community organizations and to UM for Medical Research

Since then, the foundation has given more than $47 million in grants to over 300 community-based organizations, including the Coral Gables
Woman’s Club for their dental clinic for underprivileged children.
Recent grants have been especially important due to the pandemic. “Extra expenses have been required to purchase PPE equipment, sanitizers, masks,
gloves, gowns, cleaning liquids – and more that are required by the CDC,” says Ruth Martinez, president of the Woman’s Club. With foundation support, they reopened the clinic in June and have seen more than 200
patients since then.

Professor Sylvia Daunert (2nd left) with team at the UM Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute Funded by the Macdonald Foundation

At the other end of the health spectrum is the Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute at the University of Miami. Run by Professor Sylvia Daunert of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UM’s Miller School of Medicine, the nanotechnology institute was funded by the Macdonald Foundation in 2012 with a $7.5 million grant. In 2015, the institute inaugurated its nano fabrication facility, capable of producing “nano carriers, that act like a tiny submarine with a GPS to deliver drugs or stem cells in the body,” says Daunert. The facility is open to every South Florida company that needs to design and fabricate “very precise devices and materials at the micro and nano scales,” she says. That is music to the ears
of the Macdonald Foundation. “Our board is appreciative of the work being done by our grant recipients throughout the community,” says Aldo C. Busot, chairman of the foundation. Busot has served on the foundation board since 1998 and, as a senior vice president for wealth management at Morgan Stanley, is one of the directors responsible for growing the fund over the years. The foundation has also funded UM’s Department of Human Genetics and its School Health Initiative. Created in 2007, the Department of
Human Genetics has already identified key genes that lead to Alzheimer’s. “It is one of the leading hubs for translational research, where state of the art technology and tools are used for both the treatment and prevention of genetic-related diseases,” says John Edward Smith, managing director of the

The School Health Initiative, meanwhile, provides primary healthcare and mental health counseling to students at nine public schools in Miami-Dade. The foundation also provides scholarships to nursing and medical students at UM, Barry University and Florida International University. To learn
more or to apply for a grant, visit


August 2020, Coral Gables, Florida. In response to the devastation of Hurricane Dorian the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to the Corbett Medical Center in Treasure Cay Bahamas through the Treasure Cay Community Foundation, Inc.  Dr. Robert Daehler, Medical Director of the medical center noted that the “Corbett Medical Center serves not only the immediate Treasure Cay community, but also residents of Cooperstown, Leisure Lee, and even patients from Green Turtle Cay.  In the Treasure Cay community, the local Bahamians and Haitians that live and work in the community are the most frequent patients seen.  Currently, after hurricane Dorian, Corbett exclusively sees patients from the local and surrounding communities, as there are no longer second homeowners in the area.”  Funds will be used to purchase a much-needed digital X-ray system.


May 7, 2020, Coral Gables, FL    In response to the need for effective and efficient COVID-19 testing, the Board of Directors of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation has approved a $100,000 gift for biomedical research at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in a  COVID-19 point-of-care diagnostic test being developed by Dr. Sylvia Daunert MS, PharmD, PhD, Dr. Sapna Deo, MS, PhD, Dr. Jean-Marc Zingg and their team.

Foundation Board Chair Aldo C. Busot noted the on-going relationship the foundation has with Dr. Sylvia Daunert, Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, whose lab is leading the research at the University of Miami. “In 2012, the Foundation established the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute (BioNIUM) and is aware of Dr. Daunert’s exceptional work.  It is timely that we respond to address this crisis which affects us all and fund this research and implementation.”

The patient-friendly test is under review by the FDA and is designed to diagnose the coronavirus in less than 30 minutes, providing critical, early detection that will help curb the spread of the disease. The test is also designed for cost-effective manufacturing that will enable mass production and deployment across the United States and around the world.

Dr. Daunert said “our lab has tremendous experience developing accurate and easily usable tests for infectious diseases such as HPV and Zika. Unlike tests that detect antibodies which can take weeks to manifest, our test is being developed to utilize molecular recognition and amplification of the target virus. This should allow for much earlier detection—within a couple days of exposure—providing critical and time-sensitive information to help curb the spread of the disease.”

 “Additionally, our test is designed to provide a read-out in a fraction of the time required for most other tests.  It has no technical hardware requirements, offers high sensitivity and a simple binary paper readout that can tell the health care provider if the patient is positive for a disease within 30 minutes.” 

Over the years the Foundation has funded three signature programs at the Miller School of Medicine, designed to transform healthcare in South Florida and beyond: the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics, the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation School Health Initiative in the Department of Pediatrics, and the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute (BioNIUM). 

“The Foundation is unique in its ability to identify leadership roles in our community,” said Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., Dean and Chief Academic Officer of the Miller School of Medicine. “We are grateful for their on-going support and partnership, which will help us play a leading role in advancing research that will lead to transformative care in the fight against the COVID 19 pandemic.”

Foundation Board Chair further noted: “the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation recognizes the need for the Miami-Dade community, the State of Florida, and the nation to deliver more medical and technological solutions to fight the coronavirus. This gift from the Foundation in support of Dr. Sylvia Daunert and her laboratory will accelerate their important research in developing a crucial diagnostic test for early detection of COVID-19.  I urge other donors to match the $100,000 gift to the COVIC-19 Rapid Test Research Fund; “We need to fund this effort now; it is so critically important.”

Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Co-Sponsors “Miami Medicine” exhibit at the Dade Heritage Trust

Date: December 3, 2018

Dade Heritage Trust opened a new exhibit focusing on Dr. James M. Jackson and Miami Medicine. The Trust, formed to preserve Miami-Dade County’s architectural, environmental and cultural heritage through education and advocacy, is housed in the historic office and surgery of Dr. Jackson. The exhibit highlights Dr. Jackson, folk and Native American health practices, medical instruments and the current and future paths of medicine.  Two rooms are interpreted to represent a typical medical practice and office in the early 20th century.

The exhibits, which are considered to be permanent and ongoing, were generously sponsored by the Jackson Health System, the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation, Miami-Dade County, Culture Builds Florida, the Miami Downtown Development Authority and the City of Miami.

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