A man, a team, an idea, and a drink.

Dr. J. Robert Cade

The Cade Museum for Creativity + Invention is named for Dr. James Robert Cade, a professor of renal (kidney) medicine at the University of Florida and the lead inventor of the sports drink Gatorade.

Although he is most widely remembered for Gatorade, he was a man of many parts; a true Renaissance man. On the title page of his autobiography, Freut Euch Des Lebens (Take Joy in Life) Cade described himself as a "physician, scientist, musician, and inventor." At the time of his death in 2007, Cade had a collection of over 30 violins, (some of them dating to the 17th century) and over 60 Studebaker carriages and automobiles from the late 1800's to 1965.

He was also an accomplished writer and poet. "Great poetry," Cade once wrote, "combines music, emotion and intellect in a way nothing else can." He often quoted his favorite line from Tennyson's Ulysses "I am part of all that I have met; yet all experience is an arch where through gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades forever when I move."

In addition to Gatorade, Cade's inventions included the first shock-dissipating football helmet, a high-protein milkshake used by surgical patients, athletes, and cancer patients, and a method for treating autism and schizophrenia through diet modification.   Researchers, led by Cade's former colleague Dr. Luis Juncos, are continuing his autism research at the J. Robert Cade Foundation in Cordoba, Argentina using much of Dr. Cade's data and equipment. 

Dr. Cade was also a man of great faith. A lifelong Lutheran, he was the 1991 recipient of the Wittenberg Award and gave generously to many Lutheran colleges and organizations. His Christian beliefs inspired and informed everything he did, including his scientific research, hobbies, and friendships with people from all walks of life. In the last years of his life he and his wife Mary established and endowed the Gloria Dei Foundation, a small grant-giving organization focused primarily on the needs of the poor and under-served. They also helped establish the Gainesville Community Foundation, through which the Cade family, among other projects, has contributed to the building of the Fisher House (for the families of wounded veterans) in Gainesville.

Cade was born on September 26, 1927 in San Antonio, Texas. After service in the Navy at the end of World War II, he attended school at the University of Texas from 1948-1950. In 1953 he married Mary (Strasburger) Cade, a nurse from Dallas. In 1961, after completing a post-doctoral fellowship at Cornell University Hospital in New York City, Dr. Cade took a position at the University of Florida medical school, where he remained the rest of his life. Together he and Mary raised six children and helped raise twenty grandchildren. Dr. Cade died in Gainesville on November 27, 2007.

Birth of a Brand

Gatorade was the result of an offhand question posed in 1965 by former University of Florida linebacker Dwayne Douglas to Dr. J Robert Cade, a professor of renal medicine.   "Why don't football players ever urinate during a game?"  Cade and his team of researchers - Drs. Alejandro de Quesada, Jim Free, and Dana Shires - began investigating dehydration on the sports field – a topic on which no reliable data existed.

They soon designed and tested a drink that replaced the electrolytes lost through sweat during intense exercise.   With the permission of the coaches, Cade's team was allowed to test the drink on the freshman football team, which unexpectedly beat the upperclassmen in a practice session.   Ray Graves, Florida's head coach, immediately ordered up a large batch for his varsity squad, and in October of 1965, the Gators beat the LSU tigers in an upset.   Soon other teams wanted to know what the Gators were drinking on the sidelines.   In 1967, the Gators, after a miserable first half, dominated  Georgia Tech in the third and fourth quarters to win 27-12 in its first-ever Orange Bowl victory.  After the game, Georgia Tech coach Bobby Dodd told Gator coach Ray Graves, "We didn't have Gatorade.  That made the difference." 

 Success on the gridiron led to national publicity and commercial potential.   Without the help of others to commercialize it, however, Gatorade would have remained an interesting experiment.    Dr. Kent Bradley initiated contact with the food company Stokely Van Camp and Dr. Gene Tubbs was instrumental in negotiating the deal that eventually led Stokely to acquire the rights to market Gatorade.   Lab technician Loren Roby ran critical tests of sweat and blood samples to determine the drink's effect on athletes.  University of Florida athletic trainers Jim Cunningham and Brady Greathouse realized the critical importance of dealing directly with trainers and players to promote the effectiveness of the drink.  Today Gatorade, owned by Pepsi, dominates almost 80% of the sports beverage market with worldwide sales of about $5 billion a year.   The phenomenal success of Gatorade was chronicled in the book First in Thirst by Darren Rovell.

 The Future Inspired by the Past

In 2004, Dr. Cade and his family established the Cade Museum Foundation to design and build a museum in Gainesville.  The foundation is endowed with a permanent gift to cover all staff and operational costs, as well as limited programming.  The Cade Museum, scheduled to open in late 2015, will reflect Dr. Cade's outlandish spirit, zest for life and new ideas and his constant, genuine interest in helping, motivating and encouraging people of all ages and experience.