March 2015

A Meliora Message 

Nothing embodies Meliora more fully than the University's health care providers, researchers, and educators. 

This summer we will be dedicating an “ever better” Golisano Children’s Hospital, but its bricks and mortar are just part of a larger equation. No hospital—or any entity, really—would be worth much without the skills and talents of the people working inside it. That’s why endowed professorships, which enable us to attract and retain internationally recognized faculty members, remain critically important to providing Medicine of the Highest Order. 

On the River Campus, we continue to define our leadership in the analysis and application of big data with the development of the Institute for Data Science. Here, too, people are among its greatest assets. These are the researchers who are making discoveries that are helping us advance health care and better understand our world.

This month, we celebrated three new endowed professorships—two supporting pediatrics and the other, data science. It is exciting and gratifying to see the importance you place on the intellectual manpower within our community. 

State-of-the-art facilities plus a world-class faculty equals one of the 21st century’s leading research universities. That is Meliora. 

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Ganatras Support Pediatric Cardiac Care 

Tansukh, Sarla, and Rajesh Ganatra 

The Children’s Heart Center at Golisano Children’s Hospital provides the highest quality preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic care for its young patients and their families. Much of that important work takes place in its state-of-the-art Pediatric Cardiac Care Center—and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. 

Grateful for the researchers and physicians who have helped their family and the families of so many others, the Ganatra family has made a $1.5 million commitment to create the Tansukh, Sarla and Rajesh Ganatra Professorship in Pediatric Cardiac Surgery

“Professorships are the building blocks of a great university,” said President Joel Seligman. “We are deeply grateful to the Ganatra family for their contribution to the future health of children born with life-threatening conditions. In a few months, we’ll be opening a new Golisano Children’s Hospital and fervent supporters like the Ganatras are ensuring we will have the very best doctors caring for our patients.”

Tansukh, Sarla, and Rajesh Ganatra made the commitment to fund an endowed professorship in Pediatric Cardiac Surgery out of gratitude to the URMC doctors who have assisted numerous family members and dear friends. Funding from the professorship may be used to support the holder’s salary, benefits, research, or programmatic needs.

The professorship is part of the family’s longtime support of pediatric cardiology at the Medical Center. They have also pledged a significant portion of their family estate to the Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute. 

“We may not be around to benefit from the research and work done today, but if it helps future generations, why not support it?” said Tansukh, who believes the best kind of happiness comes from helping others. “When you leave this world, you don’t take anything with you. While we are alive, we want to share with others and continue to help.”

Tansukh, now retired, was vice-chairman and chief executive officer of North Carolina based US LEC, which he co-founded with Aab. Previously, Tansukh worked for ACC Corp. in Rochester, as president and chief operating officer, and at Rochester Telephone Corp. He was born in Uganda and met his wife, Sarla, at University College in Kenya. They have lived in Charlotte, N.C. for 24 years subsequent to residing in Rochester for 21 years. Their son, Rajesh, obtained his accounting degree at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte in May 1994 and works in philanthropy, web design, and financial management.

You can read more about the Ganatras’ gift in the official press release.

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Lawrence Installed as Inaugural Northumberland Trust Professor

Joel Seligman, Ruth Lawrence ’49M (MD), ’58M (Res), and Mark Taubman, M.D. 

Local Legends is a nationwide effort by the National Institutes of Health and the American Medical Women’s Association to highlight outstanding women physicians who have demonstrated commitment, originality, innovation, or creativity in their fields of medicine. In 2004, U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter nominated Ruth A. Lawrence ’49M (MD), ’58M (Res).

Lawrence has led a distinguished career as a pediatrician, clinical toxicologist, and neonatologist. In addition to helping pioneer neonatology as a specialty, she is an international authority on breastfeeding and a poison control expert. Slaughter described her as a “sterling role model for aspiring women doctors,” but Lawrence’s contributions to pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology have made her an exemplar for all aspiring physicians. 

On March 5, the University community recognized Lawrence’s excellence as a researcher, educator, mentor, and clinician during a ceremony installing her as the inaugural Northumberland Trust Professor in Pediatrics.

“It is an exciting time for the University’s Department of Pediatrics with the opening of the new Golisano Children’s Hospital on the horizon,” said President Joel Seligman. “This would not be a world-class health care facility without the world-class faculty to go with it. Thanks to our anonymous donor, we’re able to honor someone who is revered by her peers in the field of toxicology. I can think of no better physician, teacher, or person than Ruth Lawrence to be the first holder of this professorship.”

Since the beginning of The Meliora Challenge, the University has added 52 endowed professorships within the School of Medicine and Dentistry. 

“Ruth exemplifies what endowed professorships are all about,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of the Medical Center and UR Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “She is tireless in her work, prolific in her research, and uplifting in her demeanor, nurturing all of those around her.”

Lawrence has been director of what is now the Ruth A. Lawrence Poison and Drug Information Center since 1958. Her specialties include the toxicology of plants and herbs as well as medications during pregnancy and lactation. She is also the director of the Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Study Center, which she founded in 1985, and the author of Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession, now in its 8th edition. And she was the founding member and past president of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.

In addition to numerous University awards, Lawrence received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Toxicology in 2002. 

She and her late husband, Robert M. Lawrence ’49M (MD), are the parents of nine children, of whom three have pursued careers in medicine.

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Kautz Installed as Inaugural Wentworth Director

Joel Seligman, Tim Wentworth P’11, P’16, Robin Wentworth P’11, P’16, and Henry Kautz ’87 (PhD)

Twitter often gives snapshots of a user’s life, which can lead to tweets like “Can’t get out of bed #sickforever” or “Ugh, sick. Must have soup.” In the world of data science, these are not just innocuous tweets, they’re symptoms. University Professor of Computer Science Henry Kautz ’87 (PhD) was able to demonstrate an ability to predict the spread of flu by mining Twitter for reports of illness, an approach he believes could potentially revolutionize how we identify and address large-scale epidemics.

Since joining the faculty in 2006, Kautz has been a major contributor to the Data Science Initiative at the University, as the founding director of the Institute for Data Science. Thanks to a $3 million commitment from Robin C. Wentworth P’11, P’16 and University Trustee Timothy C. Wentworth P’11, P’16, the University was able to recognize Kautz’s leadership, scholarship, and his development of the undergraduate and graduate programs at Rochester.

On March 12, Kautz was formally installed as the inaugural Robin and Tim Wentworth Director of the Institute for Data Science, and the Wentworths were honored for their generous support.

“There are few projects at the University that have received as much focus as the Institute for Data Science. The directorship established through the generosity of Robin and Tim Wentworth is one of the most important gifts in support of the Institute,” said President Joel Seligman. “It is hard to overstate my gratitude for their commitment to our faculty. Our aspirations in data science are rooted in people, and Henry Kautz is someone who will help Rochester become a magnet for extraordinary faculty and students and further put Rochester on the map by keeping us at the forefront of this still burgeoning field.”

The Wentworths’ directorship follows the creation of the Wentworth Family Endowed Scholarship (2010) in support of students transferring to the University from community or junior colleges and a leadership gift at the Warner School of Education for which LeChase Hall’s atrium was named in their honor. They also provide annual unrestricted support to the Rochester Parents Fund as Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle. 

Part of the University’s expansion in data science includes adding as many as 20 new faculty members. So far, seven have been hired. Although attracting more experts in the field remains a priority, there is no addition more important to the Institute’s future than the establishment of the Wentworth Directorship. 

“This is a key position at a key time,” said Robert L. Clark, senior vice president for research and dean of the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences. “Henry’s been a catalyst for the development of the Institute’s curriculum and has played a critical role in organizing the faculty to focus on the technology and tools that enable the analysis of big data. He’s also one of the nation’s top minds in artificial intelligence and has frequently been sought by peer universities so having this directorship to retain his leadership has been tremendous.”

Kautz conducts his research in social and public health, grounded natural language learning, pervasive computing, search algorithms, and assistive technology. Prior to joining the University he was a researcher and department head at Bell Labs and at AT&T Laboratories, until becoming a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington in 2000. He is a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, where he has served as president and is the winner of the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence’s Computers and Thought Award. His research in artificial intelligence and pervasive computing has received more than 20,000 citations.

You can read more about the Wentworths and their gift in the official press release.

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February 2015

A Meliora Message 

Our colors are blue and yellow, but during Rochester’s winter months, white makes a strong case. For some of you, however, green is still part of your daily palette. Regardless of the time of year or the prominent colors wherever you call home, the spirit of Meliora remains a commonality between us all.

Whether we are separated by streets, states, or several thousand miles, we remain connected by an ethos that drives us to be “ever better.” It has helped you connect and re-connect with peers and classmates during Meliora Weekend. Some of you shared its effect on your life in a Meliora Moment. And it has been a mutual motivator for supporting The Meliora Challenge.

In this month’s issue of Fast Forward we feature gifts, from St. Louis and Rochester, that are helping the University maintain its faculty excellence. This is just one example of how the expansive and dedicated network of alumni, faculty and staff, parents, and friends are fostering the Campaign’s momentum.

The University community knows no bounds, and that is why we will succeed in our mission to make the world “ever better.”

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Wentworths Endow Director of Institute for Data Science 

Robin P'11, P'16 and Timothy Wentworth P'11, P'16

Rochester natives Robin P’11, P’16 and Timothy Wentworth P’11, P’16 continue to build on a legacy that includes support for University students, facilities, the Annual Fund, and now faculty. With a $3 million commitment, the Wentworths have established the Robin and Tim Wentworth Directorship of the Institute for Data Science.

Founding and current director of the Institute for Data Science (IDS) Henry Kautz, professor of computer science in the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, has been named the inaugural Wentworth Director.

“I could not be more grateful to Robin and Tim for their generous pledge to the University and Data Science Initiative,” said President Joel Seligman. “Their remarkable commitment to establish this directorship shows great vision as they are helping to secure our place at the forefront of this burgeoning field. With this gift, they are ensuring that we have exceptional leadership for the future.”

The IDS is a top priority for the University. As the centerpiece of the University’s current five-year strategic plan, the Data Science Initiative features the construction of a state-of-the-art building to house the IDS, as well as support for new faculty members with expertise in the field.

“It’s very exciting to be on the ground floor of something that will be of long-term strategic significance to the University and of major importance to the world,” said Tim, a member of the Board of Trustees. “Robin and I both believe strongly in thoughtful analytical solutions to problems, and data science captures our imagination. We hope that our commitment to the IDS at this important time has a compounding effect to draw in a wide range of support for the Institute so that it can really be built out to its complete potential.”

Over the years, the Wentworths’ vision and dedication have enabled potential throughout the University. In 2010, Robin and Tim—graduates of Monroe Community College—established the Wentworth Family Endowed Scholarship to assist students who are transferring to the University of Rochester from a community or junior college. Two years later, Wentworth Atrium in Raymond F. LeChase Hall was named in honor of the significant support the Wentworths gave to the Warner School of Education. And they provide ongoing support to the Rochester Parents Fund through their George Eastman Circle membership.

In addition to being members of the Northern New Jersey Regional Cabinet, Tim and Robin are members of the University’s Parents Council and are co-chairs of the Parents Initiative for The Meliora Challenge. Two of their three daughters are members of the University of Rochester community—Elizabeth Wentworth ’11 and Abigail Wentworth ’16.

Read more about the Wentworths’ gift and the inaugural Wentworth Director in the official press release.

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Dorsey Installed as Inaugural Levy Professor

Mark Taubman, M.D., President Joel Seligman, Ray Dorsey '07M (Flw), and Chairman Emeritus G. Robert Witmer '59

As many as one million people in the U.S. are coping with Parkinson’s disease. For many, it can be extremely difficult to see a doctor in person due to the tremors, slowness of movement, and difficulty with walking and balance. Their inability to access care significantly increases the need for care by skilled nurses and the risk of hip fracture and even death.

What if patients didn’t have to leave their homes? 

Ray Dorsey ’07M (Flw) is working on it. Dorsey, director of the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics and the Center for Health and Technology, is leading the application of telemedicine models to treat patients who have Parkinson’s disease.

For work that is exemplary of Medicine of the Highest Order, Dorsey has been made the inaugural David M. Levy Professor in Neurology. On January 27, Dorsey and his position’s namesake, the late David M. Levy, were recognized by the University community at a formal installation ceremony.

“David was grateful to his doctors at the Medical Center for being able to stay active so late in life, despite having Parkinson’s disease,” said President Joel Seligman. “His enduring legacy will help future generations enjoy the same freedoms by enabling great physicians and researchers like Ray to battle Parkinson’s and other debilitating neurological diseases through the establishment of this professorship.”

David was a lifelong Rochesterian who died in 2011, at the age of 92. A U.S. Navy veteran who served in World War II, David practiced law for 60 years and was an active skier and fisherman. He continued to ski until he was 87 years old and went on his last fly fishing trip just months before his death. At age 90, he was still going into his law office.

The Levy Professorship, created in David’s name, was funded by a gift from his estate to honor his desire to support the Department of Neurology and research related to Parkinson’s disease. Dorsey makes an ideal first holder, as he and his colleagues are using web-based video conferencing to make virtual house calls, a treatment approach that could potentially allow more patients to live independently in their homes and still receive the specialized care they need.

“Ray is an extraordinary faculty member who exemplifies what endowed professorships are all about,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of the Medical Center and UR Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “His work has the potential to affect the lives of thousands, as it holds the key to providing subspecialty care to patients for whom a trip to Rochester is impractical or impossible.”

Dorsey is the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Academy of Neurology’s Jon Stolk Award in Movement Disorders for Young Investigators in 2010. His research has been published in leading medical, neurology, and economic journals, and he has been featured as an expert on National Public Radio, in The New York Times, and in The Wall Street Journal.

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January 2015

A Meliora Message 

Have you ever wondered where the tradition of New Year’s resolutions came from?

Around 4,000 years ago, Babylonians would begin each year by making promises to their gods about returning objects and paying off debts. The ancient Romans practiced a similar tradition, only they spoke to one god: Janus.

Janus was the god of beginnings and transitions, and as you may have guessed, is January’s namesake. Depictions of Janus showed him with two faces—one looking forward and the other looking backward. It is in that spirit that we begin this, and every, calendar year. 

Taking the time to reflect on how we arrived at the place we are today helps us determine where we are going in the future and how we will get there. We are now at the halfway point of the University’s fiscal year, not far removed from passing $1.1 billion, and closer to reaching new milestones in 2015, such as the opening and dedication of the new Golisano Children’s Hospital. Working with volunteers and academic leaders, we also are looking far ahead, beyond the successful completion of The Meliora Challenge. The University’s mission does not end with the Campaign, and developing a strategy to utilize the momentum we have generated is integral to our success in future endeavors.

Like us, we hope you are filled with pride for all we have accomplished, and at the same time, enthusiasm and ambition, for all we have yet to see come to fruition.

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Schyve Commits Support to Bioethics

Paul M. Schyve '66, '70M (MD), '74M (Res)

In-vitro fertilization, palliative care, and access to and the allocation of medical resources are just a few topics in the nascent field of bioethics. Bioethics is the study of issues—usually controversial—that emerge from advances in biology and medicine. Paul M. Schyve ’66, ’70M (MD), ’74M (Res) sees the University as ideal ground for this kind of work.

To support the study and practice of bioethics in health care and research at the University, Paul has made a $5 million commitment that will be used to establish the Paul M. Schyve, M.D. Center for Bioethics.

“The University of Rochester, with its biopsychosocial tradition, is the perfect setting to deliberate bioethical issues and develop a framework for ethical decision making in clinical care, the health delivery system, and life sciences research. Ultimately, this will improve patient care and promote human dignity,” said Paul, senior advisor for Healthcare Improvement at The Joint Commission. “My education at the University played an important formative role in my professional career; I am pleased to find such a deeply meaningful way to give back.”

Paul’s gift will help advance bioethical training and education throughout the region; help professionals, patients, and families make bioethical decisions; and help enhance community understanding of bioethical issues. His vision for the Schyve Center for Bioethics is to, ultimately, have it help the University become an international leader in bioethics. Some of the early initiatives that will be key to this aspiration will be the unification of programs across the University and the institution of a bioethics council.

“As an academic medical center located on a university campus, we are uniquely positioned to become the leading resource for bioethics scholarship in upstate New York,” said Mark Taubman, CEO of the URMC and UR Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “Dr. Schyve’s generous gift will help make that a reality.”

A Rochester native, Paul became increasingly interested in the ethics of health care three decades ago when developing accreditation standards related to clinical, research, and organizational ethics at The Joint Commission. He joined The Joint Commission as director of Standards in 1986; subsequently serving as vice president for Research and Standards (1989–1993) and senior vice president (1993–2011) before assuming his current role.

You can read more about Paul’s gift in the official press release.

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