Big ideas and a bigger heart: The Jurenko family

The legacy of a longtime HudsonAlpha supporter will live on at an Idea Table in the HudsonAlpha atrium. The family of John Jurenko, who passed away in April 2015 after a courageous battle with Parkinson Disease, attended a ceremony in his honor at HudsonAlpha in September.

John, a co-founder of Adtran, and his wife Ruth donated $500,000 in 2011 for joint research in Parkinson between HudsonAlpha and UAB. Active members of the Genome Circle, the Jurenko’s visited HudsonAlpha frequently. It was one such encounter that led to a HudsonAlpha associate company creating a whole new mission. John asked leaders of Serina Therapeutics if the drug delivery system they had created could be used to treat Parkinson patients more effectively. Today, that drug is in clinical trials and shows great promise. Helping others with Parkinson was John’s passion.

“We talked many times, and most of our conversations centered around his determination to help others who were suffering,” recalled HudsonAlpha president Dr. Rick Myers. “He believed in our work here and inspired us to work harder.”

Ruth, along with daughters Carole Jones and Janet Brown, established a memorial fund at HudsonAlpha after John’s death. The Idea Table is named in his honor. Idea tables and chairs are a unique fundraising opportunity that allow donors  to be part of the collaboration conversations held every day on campus.

“When Dad passed away, we always knew we wanted to do a memorial in his honor at HudsonAlpha. It was as very special place for him,” said Janet.