MU researcher gives gift back to MU to continue his research
November 20th, 2014
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Frank Booth, a resident of Columbia and a professor in the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, School of Medicine and MU Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, has given a $1 million gift to MU to fund his research into physical activity and health and to endow the Frank Booth Fellowship in Physical Activity and Health in the MU School of Medicine in perpetuity. Booth, an expert on genetic motivations for exercise and activity, has made research into unhealthy effects of physical inactivity on the brain and aerobic capacity his life’s work. He says his gift is motivated by a passion to help humans and animals live longer lives free from chronic diseases.
“Throughout my years of research, I have discovered the true importance of exercise and physical activity on health,” Booth said. “Unfortunately, many people fail to realize how much they could improve their health by remaining physically active. My goal with this gift is to support continuing research on the effects of exercise and to help communicate the importance of exercise to overall health, including the prevention of chronic diseases.”
Booth’s gift, in conjunction with past giving to MU, will continue to fund his exercise physiology research for years into the future. He says his two research priorities will include the discovery of what motivates people to be either active or “couch potatoes,” as well as the search for what genes cause humans to lose their ability to remain physically active as they age. Booth says he wants to help people remain capable of playing with their grandchildren even as they enter the latter stages of life. The Frank Booth Fellowship in Physical Activity and Health will be funded by an estate gift from Booth and will provide fellowship awards for second and third-year graduate students who are engaged in research on physical health and exercise at the MU Health Activity Center.
“In his 15 years at MU, Frank Booth has worked tirelessly to research exercise in animals and people and the impact of a sedentary lifestyle on health and longevity,” said Neil Olson, dean of the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. “If you know Dr. Booth, you know that he doesn’t just walk the walk, he runs the run — jogging to work, between his offices, and to conduct most of his errands. Dr. Booth also runs the run when it comes to championing the College of Veterinary Medicine and University of Missouri, not only with his time and talent, but also with his financial support. We are so grateful to Frank for his generosity, not only because it helps ensure this important area of research will continue, but also because it speaks volumes when our faculty members take such pride in our institution and believe in our work that they personally invest in it.”
“Through his generosity and dedication to his work, it is obvious that Dr. Booth is passionate about helping people remain healthy throughout their lifetimes,” said MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin. “Dr. Booth is a credit to the MU faculty and to the entire academic community and a model of how giving back to his university can not only improve education and important research, but also advance the goals and dreams of donors beyond their lifetimes.”
Booth has more than 40 years of research experience in physiological, biochemical, molecular and genetic adaptations that occur during exercise. Some of his most recent research has focused on genetic pre-dispositions to exercise. Booth has succeeded in breeding rats that exhibited traits of either extreme activity or extreme laziness. Booth believes these findings may suggest a link between the genes responsible for exercise motivation and the genes responsible for mental development. He also says this research hints that exercising at a young age could help develop more neural pathways for motivation to be physically active.
Booth has been awarded three honor awards for his work: an honor award from the 13th International Conference on the Biochemistry of Exercise in 2006; an honor award from the Environmental and Exercise Section of American Physiological Society in 2009; and an honor award from the American College of Sports Medicine in 2010. He is a member of the editorial boards of Journal of Applied Physiology, American Journal of Physiology: Cell Physiology, Physiological Genomics and CardioMetabolic Syndrome.