The Bell Addictive Diseases Chair, started with a $250,000 gift by Jessica Bell in honor of her husband, former Jonabell Farm owner John Bell, has now reached $1.4 million, the University of Kentucky reports.The search for the inaugural Bell Alcohol and Addictions Chair is now underway, the university announced. The chair will be charged with developing a research and education program that is aimed at medical students, residents, and community physicians. It is a collaborative venture between the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine and the UK Center on Drug and Alcohol Research. The Bells hope to educate doctors on the diseases of alcoholism and drug addiction.They are well known and respected in the horse breeding industry as the owners of Jonabell Farm. Established in 1946, Jonabell produced more than 200 stakes winners and 14 champions. The Bells sold the 859-acre farm to Sheikh Mohammed's Darley several years ago.
Jessica Bell's initial donation to endow the Bell Addictive Diseases Chair was quickly followed by further gifts from friends and admirers who lent their support to the cause. The endowment of $1.4 million includes matching Kentucky Research Challenge Trust Fund dollars.
"Doctors are notoriously ill-informed about alcoholism," Jessica Bell said. "So many think it's a moral issue. You either decide to drink or not. But it is a disease. The best way to attack the problem is to educate doctors."Physicians, she says, must learn to recognize the symptoms of alcoholism and addiction and not rely solely on the patient to be forthcoming or completely honest about their problems.
"This is an incredible opportunity for the College of Medicine to take a leadership role in the education of medical students and other health professional students in the issues and problems of substance abuse," said Dr. Samuel Matheny, chair of the department of family and community Medicine. "We are all aware this is a major health issue for Kentucky. This will help enhance awareness for physicians to provide assistance and interventions for patients and families in Kentucky."