A.L. Chilton Foundation donates $240,000 to UT Southwestern


From left, Bonnie Bell Harding, Mar Nell Bell, and Patti Bell Brown visit during the 2016 Chilton Lecture

By Sharon Reynolds

Arthur L. Chilton began supporting biochemistry students in the 1950s through his charitable foundation. The radio broadcasting executive was drawn to UT Southwestern Medical Center by an interest in lipid metabolism and obesity research and reached out to the Department of Biochemistry.

It was the beginning of an extraordinary relationship that has spanned more than six decades. Since that time, the A.L. Chilton Foundation has provided more than $6.2 million to UT Southwestern and has been vital to the mission of the Department of Biochemistry and the Medical Center as a whole.

The latest Chilton Foundation gift of $240,000 will partially fund a mass spectrometer, an instrument used to analyze protein composition; purchase equipment needed to further neuroscience research in gene editing and optogenetics; provide added support to Chilton-named endowments previously established by the Foundation, including The Sam G. Winstead and F. Andrew Bell Distinguished Chair in Biochemistry, and the Mar Nell and F. Andrew Bell Distinguished Chair in Biochemistry; and add to endowed funds held at Southwestern Medical Foundation,including the Patti Bell Brown Professorship in Biochemistry, and the Bonnie Bell Harding Professorship in Biochemistry. 

“UT Southwestern would not be where it is today without the generosity of the A.L. Chilton Foundation,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern. “We are honored to once again be the recipient of such a remarkable gift and are proud of what we have accomplished together. The legacy of A.L. and Leonore Chilton and their Foundation can be found throughout the Department of Biochemistry and the UT Southwestern campus.”

Patti Bell Brown is a member of the Chilton Foundation’s distribution committee and a lifelong Dallas resident. She has been thrilled to watch the Foundation’s investments in UT Southwestern lead to fast-paced research innovations and discoveries. 

“UT Southwestern continues to lead as a top tier medical research institution,” Ms. Brown said. “The Biochemistry Department has grown tremendously under the leadership of the late Dr. Ronald Estabrook and Dr. Steve McKnight, who have made great strides in research. We’ve put all our faith into these scientists and their teams and have felt very positive about the end result of our gifts.” 

As Dr. Margaret Phillips, the Chair of Biochemistry said, she is deeply grateful for the generosity of the Foundation and the impact of its gifts. “Chilton named endowments have furthered research and developed careers, both at student and faculty levels,” she said. “The mass spectrometer is an essential technology that supports research, retains good people, and benefits the entire UT Southwestern community. The commitment of the Chilton Foundation is unwavering, and the Department is most appreciative.” 

Dr. Joseph S. Takahashi, Chairman of Neuroscience, also is extremely grateful for the gifts to the Department. “Gene editing and optogenetic methods are revolutionizing the study of brain function, and we are very proud to have received this forward-thinking gift from the Chilton Foundation to support cutting-edge research in neuroscience,” he said.

The A.L. Chilton Foundation was established in 1945 in Texas by A.L. and Leonore Chilton. Mr.Chilton, who owned Sky Broadcasting Service, a chain of radio stations in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, died in 1973. His close friend, the late F. Andrew Bell, and subsequently his widow, Mar Nell, and their daughters, Bonnie Bell Harding and Patti Bell Brown, carry on his philanthropic legacy. 

The Chilton Foundation’s gifts to support Biochemistry programs previously established the Chilton/Bell Fund for Scholars in Biomedical Research and the Chilton/Bell Biochemistry Research Fellowship Fund; the Mar Nell and F. Andrew Bell Distinguished Chair in Biochemistry; The Sam G. Winstead and F. Andrew Bell Distinguished Chair in Biochemistry; and the A.L. Chilton Distinguished Visiting Professorship in Biochemistry. Other funding includes the Chilton Lectures, held annually since 1985; various pieces of medical equipment; and support for the construction of the Zale Lipshy and William P. Clements Jr. University Hospitals.

Dr. McKnight holds the Distinguished Chair in Basic Biomedical Research.

Dr. Phillips holds The Sam G. Winstead and F. Andrew Bell Distinguished Chair in Biochemistry.

Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

Dr. Takahashi, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at UT Southwestern, holds the Loyd B. Sands Distinguished Chair in Neuroscience.