December 2015

Turning Wine into Wilmot Discoveries

Danny and Stency Wegman, Delores Conway, and Joel Seligman

For the last 15 years, the Toast to Your Health Fine Wine Auction (see photos) has played sommelier to University of Rochester Medical Center endeavors, pairing notable wines—and food—with philanthropic support for vital research and patient care endeavors. This year’s event, which took place November 14 at the Robert B. Wegman Conference Facility, netted $1 million in support for blood cancer research at Wilmot Cancer Institute.

For blood cancers—leukemia, lymphoma, myelodysplastic syndrome, and others—advances in research have meant more adults and children are now surviving. Over its 40-year history of having an impact on cancer care in the Rochester area and around the world, Wilmot Cancer Institute has been a leader in establishing disease classification systems, advancing technology and therapies, and influencing the national agenda for clinical trials.

Thanks to honorary chairs Tom and Colleen Wilmot, valued partners Danny and Stency Wegman, Sherwood Deutsch, and Michael Misch, and all of the sponsors and attendees, the auction has given Wilmot Cancer Institute crucial resources that will help enhance its capabilities in translational research. This includes support for the recruitment of an internationally renowned laboratory researcher and funding for strategic investments in specialized equipment and infrastructure.

Currently, the UR Medicine leukemia team’s discoveries in the growth of leukemia stem cells are guiding the next level of investigation in labs across the country. And the lymphoma team is investigating why cancer cells escape the robust activities of healthy immune cells and if it’s possible to reprogram cancer cells into tumor fighters.

“At a time when we’re poised to make the biggest discoveries, the national investment in research is at record low levels,” said Jonathan W. Friedberg, M.D., M.M.Sc., director of the Wilmot Cancer Institute and Samuel E. Durand Chair in Medicine. “Centers like Wilmot need to depend on philanthropy to fill in the gap.”

Generous gifts to the Wilmot Cancer Institute fuel transformative research that is matched by world-class care, giving patients the best chance to enjoy new beginnings and the fullest lives possible.

See for yourself in these two: blood cancer patient victory stories.

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Rolling Out the Recognition

Loyalty has its honors.

Now, loyalty also carries with it some public recognition. In October, the University launched the Rochester Loyal Honor Roll, a searchable, web-based directory that recognizes all donors who have given to any University annual fund for two or more consecutive years.

Currently, there are more than 23,000 Rochester Loyal members who play a vital role in strengthening faculty support, increasing student scholarship support, making the latest technology available to the University community, ensuring the delivery of patient and family-centered medical care, and much more.

You can see the names of those 23,000+ supporters by visiting the Honor Roll site.

With the Honor Roll, the University recognizes and shares its gratitude with its Rochester Loyal members and stresses the importance of giving throughout one’s lifetime. The thousands of names are a visual reminder of the collective impact being created every day of the year.

“The Rochester Loyal program doesn’t focus on dollar amounts,” says Martha Krohn, associate vice president of engagement. “The intent is to thank our donors for their thoughtful generosity every year. One year turns into two, then five, and sometimes 50, and for that we are most grateful.”

Rochester Loyal members are recognized based on their years of consecutive giving. The recognition levels are: Blue (2–4 years), Yellow (5–9 years), Gold (10–19 years), and Platinum (20+ years).

In addition to placement in the Honor Roll, Rochester Loyal membership includes perks such as early notification of Meliora Weekend entertainment as well as additional exclusive University communications throughout the year. 

To be included in the Rochester Loyal Honor Roll, renew your membership or give to the University in consecutive years. Starting is as easy as making a gift today.

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Rochester Alumni Meet the Challenge

Alumni in San Francisco help clean up the Lands End Trail. The service project, held in conjunction with our annual Wilson Day to support community service, is just one way alumni get involved with the University to support the greater good.  

Nothing fuels the competitive spirit more than a contest among friends. Or among fellow Rochester alumni. Add a strong sense of geographic pride, and you have a new and fun way to support the University of Rochester and its medical center. 

The Regional Alumni Challenge carves Rochester alumni into six U.S. regions, and pits them against each other, all in the name of creating meaningful impact through giving. Between now and June 30, alumni gifts of any amount to the University will count toward the Alumni Challenge and boost the giver’s regional participation rate. Next summer, the University will calculate highest rate of giving among the regions and announce the winner. 

The program is a new partnership between Annual Giving and Alumni Relations and follows The Meliora Challenge’s recently concluded series of regionally focused events from coast to coast. Those large-scale events promoted the Campaign to alumni in their home cities, encouraging a continuous connection to the University.

Over the past few months, the University has sharpened its focus on regionally based alumni events. Hundreds take place every year, all across the country. Many are managed by alumni volunteers and they include happy hours, volunteer outings, thought-provoking panel discussions and much more. On December 9 in Seattle, four Rochester alumni (from three different schools) participated in a panel discussion on the intersection of technology, commerce and music. 

Alumni giving has a positive effect on how the University is ranked, and, of course, more giving means more resources for programming and financial aid—and it’s also a consideration for foundations and corporations making philanthropic decisions.

Significantly increasing giving from alumni starts with students. On average, half of the senior class has been giving back, which is a testament of their pride and investment in the future.

Kayleigh Rae Stampfler ’08 of Rochester, is a young alumna whose gift this year counted toward the Mid-Atlantic Region’s total. “I donate to the University as a way to say thank you and ensure future students have the same opportunities for success as I did,” Stampfler said.

As of December 14, Stampfler and her fellow alumni from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware lead the Alumni Challenge by less than one percentage point over the South. Statistics are updated weekly.

Want to help your region win the Alumni Challenge? Make a gift today!

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November 2015

A Name for Entrepreneurship

Carolyn Ain and Mark Ain '67S (MBA)

There are many ways to define “entrepreneurship.” The University of Rochester does it in broad terms: generating and transforming ideas into enterprises that create value. 

Our definition’s breadth speaks directly to our entrepreneurial history, beginning with conventional exemplars George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak, and Joe Wilson ’31, founder of Xerox Corporation. But it also applies to industry innovators such as William H. Riker, political scientist and former University professor, who pioneered the use of game theory and mathematics in his field, and Loretta Ford ’00 (HNR), dean and professor emerita of the School of Nursing, who co-founded the nurse practitioner model. 

When it comes to our entrepreneurial future, the names you need to know are Mark Ain ’67S (MBA) and his wife, Carolyn, the new namesakes of the University’s Ain Center for Entrepreneurship. The Center was named in honor of the Ains’ $5 million in collective philanthropy toward the University, including their recent multimillion-dollar commitment to support entrepreneurship education.

To learn more about the Ains’ latest gift, take a look at the official news release

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Committed to Idea Exploration

Barbara Burger '83, Joel Seligman, and Mary Ann Mavrinac

Rochester students are empowered to study what they love and build their own University experience, thanks to our “no subjects required” curriculum.

One of the products of this academic autonomy is a learning environment where passions constantly collide. Our students have expressed the desire for more of those intellectual collisions by way of increased opportunities to connect with others who are like-minded or who have interests complementary to their own. The iZone, a River Campus Libraries’ project in development, aims to meet that need by giving students a space and resources to fully explore their social, cultural, community, and  economic ideas. Only, when the iZone is completed, it will be known as the Barbara J. Burger iZone at the River Campus Libraries.

The iZone’s future namesake, Barbara Burger ’83, has committed $1 million to the River Campus Libraries in support of the learning space’s creation and implementation.

To learn about Burger’s gift and the iZone, take a look at the official news release.

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Excellence in Stem Cell Biology

Joel Seligman, Mark Noble, and Mark Taubman  

Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin launched an age of antibiotics that turned cuts and scratches, once potentially fatal afflictions, into minor injuries. And vaccines have made it possible to completely eradicate diseases which, in the case of smallpox, we did in 1979. Much like the development of antibiotics and vaccines, discoveries in stem cell biology have the potential to revolutionize our ability to treat and prevent disease.

More exciting than the prospect of stem cell research leading to a transformative discovery is the prospect of it happening at the Medical Center. Right now, Director of UR Medicine’s Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Institute Mark D. Noble, Ph.D., is leading those efforts.

Noble and a team of colleagues are addressing a wide range of areas related to stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. In 2014, he received a New York State Stem Cell grant to investigate lysosomal storage disorders, which cause devastating damage to the brain and spinal cord. There are currently no treatments for these diseases, but Noble and his colleagues aim to change that by looking for properties in existing drugs that prevent their toxic activities. Noble’s work in this area is just one example of why he was installed as the Martha M. Freeman, M.D. Professor in Biomedical Genetics on September 25.

The Freeman Professorship was created by late alumni Martha Mann Freeman ’44, ’45N, ’51M (MD) and Donald M. Foster ’50M (MD). Freeman was a passionate researcher and proud alumna, and her generous provisions for the University in her will helped establish the professorship. Foster, a radiologist and longtime supporter of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, made similar arrangements in his estate plan. His bequest helped fund two additional professorships—in biostatistics and biomedical genetics—named in his honor.

“We were able to honor one of our finest researchers, thanks to Martha and Donald’s pride as members of the University community,” said President and CEO Joel Seligman. “I am delighted that Mark Noble is the inaugural holder of this professorship. Mark is exceptionally worthy and poised to extend stem cell biology into transformative territory.”

In addition to the treatment of lysosomal dysfunction, Noble and his team are focused on developing novel cancer treatments that are more effective and less damaging to normal tissue than existing therapies and regeneration in acute and chronic injury to the central and peripheral nervous system.

“Stem cell biology could be the key to unlocking medicine that gives us a greater capacity to fight disease and reduce suffering,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of the URMC and UR Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “Mark’s work is making that key more and more tangible, and it’s making me more and more optimistic that we are not far from the next life-changing discovery.”

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Championing Pediatric Allergy

Mark Taubman, Eric Dreyfuss, Kirsi Järvinen-Seppo, and Joel Seligman 

If you traced the subspecialty of pediatric allergy back to its roots, you would end up at the Medical Center. 

In 1931, Jerome Glaser, M.D., served as founding director of a clinic devoted to pediatric allergy at Strong Memorial Hospital. He also wrote the subspecialty’s first textbook and started one of the first training programs. One of his first trainees was also his successor: Douglas E. Johnstone, M.D.

Continuing Glaser’s work, Johnstone pioneered the efficacy of allergy injections. His successor, and former trainee, Robert H. Schwartz, directed the program until 1985. Schwartz was editor for the Journal of Pediatric Asthma, Allergy and Immunology.

A new University professorship honors the founders of pediatric allergy in Rochester. A pediatric allergist at the Medical Center for more than 50 years, Eric M. Dreyfuss, M.D., established the Founders’ Distinguished Professorship of Pediatric Allergy to ensure that children who suffer from allergies will be given the best possible care for generations to come. No one is better suited to be the first Founders’ Professor than pediatric allergy champion Kirsi M. Järvinen-Seppo, M.D., Ph.D. Järvinen-Seppo and Dreyfuss were both recognized by the University community on September 30.

“I am delighted that Eric’s passion for maintaining UR Medicine’s excellence in pediatric allergy has resulted in the creation of a distinguished professorship,” said President and CEO Joel Seligman. “It honors our past and empowers our future, beginning with its first holder, Kirsi Järvinen-Seppo, who I am confident will further enrich Rochester’s reputation in the field.”

Director of the Center for Food Allergy, Järvinen-Seppo has clinical interests in various types of food allergy and other allergic disorders. Her translational research program, which is focused on prevention of food allergy, including breast milk immunologic factors, is funded by the National Institutes of Health. 

“The creation of the Founders’ Professorship has done three incredible things all at once,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of the URMC and UR Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “It has preserved the legacy of an outstanding program; it has allowed us to recognize an outstanding faculty member in Kirsi, who is building on top of the standards her predecessors created; and it has given us an even greater ability to care for the region’s children.”

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September 2015

A Meliora Message 

With Meliora Weekend nearly here, we have two important questions for you.

Have you registered? If not, good news: you have until 12 p.m. on Friday, October 2, and it is as simple as going to the Meliora Weekend website.

Do you have a game plan for Meliora Weekend? From the River Campus and Medical Center to the Eastman School and Memorial Art Gallery, there are more than 200 programs for you to choose from over the course of four days. Given the impressive array of options, here are some suggestions to help you plan your weekend: 

Friday, October 9
Start your day at the Schoool of Medicine and Dentistry’s Class of 1962 Auditorium for MED Talks. From 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. alumni and current faculty members will be presenting on trending topics in the  medical world. Throughout the weekend, there are several opportunities to see performances from Eastman School of Music students. Try catching those celebrating the beginning of Meliora Weekend at 5:30 p.m. in Lowry Hall. You can find more information for these programs, and others, on the Friday page of the Meliora Weekend schedule.

Saturday, October 10
Make your way to the Interfaith Chapel on River Campus for back-to-back programs, starting with the Presidential Symposium: The Crisis in K–12 Education at 1:45 p.m. Join President and CEO Joel Seligman and six education professionals for an in-depth discussion on how to reform urban schools at the local, state, and national levels. Then, at 3:45 p.m., stay for Miller’s Court: Sports Gambling—What Is Legal and Why? Noted attorney and broadcaster Arthur Miller ’56, ’08 (LLD) will lead six panelists from the sports world in an exploration of the boundaries of betting on sports. You can find the list of panelists for both programs on the Saturday page of the Meliora Weekend schedule.

At some point during the weekend, take advantage of the shuttle service to or free parking at College Town. Located at the intersection of Mount Hope and Elmwood Avenues, the new district offers plenty of dining and shopping options, including Barnes & Noble, where there’s a 10 percent discount on University-imprinted clothing, giftware, and general reading (non-textbook) books.

Plan or no plan, there is no shortage of opportunities to have fun, learn, reconnect, and celebrate all things Rochester during Meliora Weekend. See it for yourself!

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Gabrellians Create Humanities Directorship, Lecture Series

Mark Gabrellian '79 and Ani Gabrellian '84

What prepares students to be leaders in their chosen fields? Expertise in craft or specialty is a driving force, but there is also great value in versatility and broad-based knowledge. President and CEO Joel Seligman and other University leaders are reaffirming Rochester’s belief in the benefits of a liberal arts education for undergraduate students through a Humanities and Performing Arts initiative that will help the University reach The Next Level. Trustee Ani Gabrellian ’84 and Mark Gabrellian ’79 couldn’t agree more.

The Gabrellians committed $2 million to create the Ani and Mark Gabrellian Humanities Center Directorship as well as additional support to establish the Hagop and Artemis Nazerian Humanities Lectures.

“I am delighted by Ani and Mark’s commitment to the future of the humanities at the University of Rochester,” said Seligman. “Their generous support will be instrumental in establishing the vision that ensures the Center succeeds in becoming a hub for multidisciplinary life on campus.” 

Announced this past April by Gloria Culver ’94 (PhD), dean of Arts & Sciences, the Center is currently being led by Interim Director Joan Shelley Rubin, the Dexter Perkins Professor in History. The Gabrellian Directorship ensures the University will have strong leadership not only at this nascent stage, but also far into the future. 

“We envision the Humanities Center as a place that provides students with a strong foundation for the rest of their lives,” said Mark, a member of the National Council for the River Campus Libraries and the University’s New York City Regional Cabinet. 

The Nazerian Humanities Lectures will help provide that foundation.

Named in honor of Ani’s parents, the annual lecture will feature University faculty members, emphasizing the collaborative nature of their efforts. Part of the Gabrellians’ support will be used to provide the chosen professors with research funds for new work that could become part of their lecture. The Gabrellians envision the talks being complemented by on-campus events, performances, and exhibits with similar themes and, hopefully, inspiring students to pursue a broad education as the lecture’s namesakes did.

Immigrants from multicultural Middle Eastern and Armenian societies, Artemis Nazerian and her late husband, Hagop, received an expansive education that enabled them to live fulfilling and productive lives. Both maintained interests in history, literature, philosophy, art, and music, and became proficient in several languages. They also served as the inspiration for Ani’s advocacy for the humanities to be respected as much as any other area of learning.

“Today there seems to be such an emphasis on the technical and STEM side of education, and we want students to know that they could be, for example, an amazing scientist and still love art history. One is not exclusive of the other,” said Ani, chair of the National Council for Arts, Sciences & Engineering. “The humanities give people different perspectives on how to approach problems. And, in the long run, the exposure to different ways of thinking will help students to excel in any path they choose.”

Charter Members of the George Eastman Circle, the Gabrellians’ recent commitment follows previous support that established the Ani and Mark Gabrellian Professorship—currently held by David Primo, associate professor of political science and business administration—to better understand the most vital political and economic issues of our era, and they created the Mesrob Mashtots Research Grants, which are innovation grants for outstanding incoming undergraduates. 

You can read more about the Gabrellians and their support for the Humanities Center in the official press release.

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Beals Establish New Institute at Eastman 

Joan Beal '84E and Jeff Beal '85E

Even in the time of silent films, cinema has never been silent. Music has always played a role in motion pictures. In film’s earliest days, this was often accomplished by way of an accompanying pianist, who improvised a soundtrack based on what was on screen. A love of jazz and improvisation helped Irene Beal perform as a film accompanist for many years. It also served as an inspiration for her grandson, Jeff Beal ’85E, who didn’t quite follow in her footsteps, but never forgot his musical roots. 

A $2 million commitment from four-time Emmy-winning composer Jeff Beal and accomplished vocalist Joan Beal ’84E have established the Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media. The Institute will provide students with resources that will prepare them for the increasing and evolving opportunities to write, produce, and perform music for film and contemporary media.

“This generous gift from Jeff and Joan connects the film legacy of the School’s founder, George Eastman, to a new era of opportunities in the music world,” said President and CEO Joel Seligman. “We are grateful for Jeff’s and Joan’s vision and support to enhance the Eastman School of Music’s preeminent role in preparing students to build lifelong careers.”

The Beals’ generosity will make the Eastman School a destination for industry experts and promising young musicians through support for student internships, scholarships, and projects; faculty instruction; visiting artist residencies; and important equipment and infrastructure. 

Through the Beal Institute, students will have opportunities to work with professionals who are actively engaged in writing for film and other contemporary media. Programs will encourage students to work together on multimedia projects with faculty members from the humanities, composition, and other Eastman School departments as well as with community arts organizations and partnering universities.

“Not only is there a need for education in composition across contemporary media platforms, there is a growing trend for orchestras and ensembles to perform this music in the concert hall,” said Jeff, a prolific and respected composer for film, media, and the concert hall, including the Academy Award-winning film Pollock and the Netflix series House of Cards, for which he recently won an Emmy. “Film music provides narrative connection, engages listeners, and can introduce new audiences to the power of the symphony orchestra.”

The Institute will also enhance the new Jazz and Contemporary Media graduate degree program in convergent artistry, focusing on writing scores for film and other applications, such as video games.

“Eastman has always been dedicated to developing artists with the strong musical fundamentals needed across the professional music world,” said Joan, who has performed in operas, in concerts with new music ensembles, and for film and television scores. “Jeff and I are honored to invest in the School’s initiatives to get students ready for new and expanding career opportunities.”

In addition to their recent commitment, the Beals have helped students at the Eastman School through the Jeff and Joan Beal George Eastman Circle Scholarship, which they created through their Charter Membership to the George Eastman Circle (GEC) in 2014.

You can read more about the Beals and the Beal Institute on the Eastman School of Music website. For more information on how you can support students through a GEC membership visit the GEC website.

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Chang Honors Mentor with Professorship

Institute of Optics Director Xi-Cheng Zhang, President Joel Seligman, Professor Nicholas George, Carol George, Milton Chang, and Professor Duncan Moore   

Maintaining a world-class faculty is an ongoing University priority that has enabled students to learn from professors who are renowned leaders in their fields, like Nicholas George, Ph.D. Named professor emeritus in 2015 and the former Marie C. Wilson and Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Electronic Imaging, George is one of the pioneers of the optics world. He discovered the holographic stereogram, invented the ring-wedge photo detector, and developed the first robot vision device to sort medical X-rays—a long-standing challenge in the field.

Perhaps greater than George’s impact on the field of optics is the positive influence he has had on his students. Before he came to Rochester, George was a member of the California Institute of Technology’s faculty, where he made a lasting impression on then-student Milton Chang, Ph.D. 

Still grateful for his former professor’s role during a formative time in his life, Chang made a gift to the University that will honor his mentor in perpetuity. With the help of a commitment from Joseph W. Goodman, the William Ayer Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, who also had a desire to express respect and admiration for George, Chang established the Nicholas George Endowed Professorship in Optics.

“During his tenure as director of the Institute of Optics, he had a big impact on the quality of the research and education here. His own success with securing research funding—an important measure of a scholar’s work—remains unsurpassed among his colleagues,” said Xi-Cheng Zhang, current director of the institute and the M. Parker Givens Professor of Optics. “Nick is also a great colleague and a great mentor. Over the years, many of his students have gone on to become leaders in the field of photonics and optics. I have often thought I would have been lucky to be one of his students!”

Chang, an entrepreneur and laser technology expert, felt George’s most valuable gift to his students was the encouragement they received to think critically and independently. “When you asked him a question, he never just answered it,” said Chang. “He would go to the board with you and help you work it out.”

George continued to mentor Chang through his post-graduate career, helping him secure his first job and, more importantly, stimulating his interest in venture capitalism. 

Chang is currently the managing director of Incubic Management, a venture capital firm that specializes in seed investments and early stage companies. He has incubated several companies, resulting in six IPOs and seven acquisitions, all of which succeeded. Previously, he served as president and CEO of the Newport Corporation and CEO of New Focus.

You can read more about Milton Chang, Nicholas George, and Joseph Goodman in the official press release.

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August 2015

A Meliora Message 

Meliora Weekend is six weeks away. Soon campus will be flooded with visitors, many of whom may not have been here in a while, leading to exclamations like “I can’t believe how much it has changed!”

There have been a lot of physical changes—some more visible than others. Morey Hall’s main entry lobby is looking more like its 1930s self. More public art has been added to the River Campus, above and below ground. The stunning, new Golisano Children’s Hospital is now a cheerful beacon at the Medical Center, standing triumphantly without construction fencing. And these are only some of the most recent transformations.

We’ve been busy. 

In her remarks at the groundbreaking for a new medical office building on the University’s South Campus, Nina Schor, M.D., the pediatrician-in-chief and William H. Eilinger Chair of Pediatrics at Golisano Children’s Hospital, shared that she was asked if she gets tired of attending groundbreakings. Given our steady stream of capital projects, it was a fair question. Dr. Schor’s answer provided an inspiring adjustment of perspective: “This is really not about groundbreakings in the literal sense. This is about changing lives.”

In other words, it's about people. It's about those who will benefit from the building’s services; those who will utilize the building’s space to teach, provide care, or conduct research; and those who help make these buildings possible.

You are among them.

Thank you for allowing us to be tireless in our efforts to enhance our University and its ability to serve our community and humanity. 

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New Site for Imaging, Autism Care

Joel Seligman breaks ground for new medical building on the University's South Campus with UR Medicine, state, and Rochester-area leaders, as well as local families

Anyone traveling near the University’s South Campus will have a hard time missing the heavy machinery excavating the grounds alongside East River Road. And if they’re guessing the University is growing again, they’re right.

On August 17, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for a three-story, 90,000-square-foot building that will house the UR Medicine Imaging Center and the William and Mildred Levine Autism Clinic. President and CEO Joel Seligman led the celebration marking the start of another key project that will enhance the University’s patient-centric facilities and extend its regional health care leadership.

“This expansion will transform the way we deliver care and provide leading-edge technology and therapies to people who travel near and far for UR Medicine expertise,” said Seligman.

Occupying the new building’s first two floors, the Imaging Center will create easier, and more comfortable, access to diagnostic services for about 250,000 people each year. In addition to convenience, it allows for a dedicated interventional radiology clinic to expand the use of minimally invasive, image-guided procedures to diagnose and treat diseases.

The third floor will house the region’s first coordinated care clinic for children and youth with autism spectrum disorder. Made possible by a $1 million gift from the William and Mildred Levine Foundation, the Levine Autism Clinic will enable patients and familes to see developmental and behavioral, psychological, and neurological care providers in one place. Children in need of these important services—in the past year, more than 500 children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the Medical Center—will have a child-friendly space that caters to their special physical, sensory, and environmental needs.

“We are a regional destination for complex pediatric care and imaging sciences,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO of UR Medicine and the Medical Center and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “As we create a health care network throughout upstate New York, more patients will come to rely on us for services and technologies that are available only through our Medical Center. This facility is the latest example of our commitment to making services more accessible.”

Patients and their families will have the opportunity to benefit from the state-of-the-art technology and integrated services when the building opens in early 2017.

You can read more about this exciting new project in the official press release

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Grateful Patient Morris Supports Cardiac Care 

Joel Seligman, Marjorie B. Morris, Peter A. Knight, M.D., and Mark Taubman,  M.D.

Weakness and difficulty breathing landed Clifton Springs resident Marjorie B. Morris a visit with heart surgeon Peter A. Knight ’87 (Flw), P’11, P’19, and not a day too soon. The symptoms that were keeping Morris from tending her garden were actually warnings for a life-threatening condition: a faulty heart valve. Knight ultimately replaced the valve, enabling Morris to return to her active lifestyle. For Morris, “thank you, doctor” was not enough.

Inspired by Knight’s expertise and compassion, Morris made a $1.5 million commitment to establish the Marjorie B. Morris Endowed Professorship in Cardiac Surgery to fully demonstrate her gratitude and support for the advancement of cardiac care. 

“The care I received was excellent and I was able to go home within a week,” said Morris. “The personal contact with Dr. Knight and his reassurance throughout the process was wonderful.”

Morris is far from alone in her high regard for Knight. On July 24, members of the University community gathered to recognize Knight as an outstanding surgeon, researcher, and mentor during a ceremony formally installing him as the inaugural Morris Professor.

“We are deeply grateful for Mrs. Morris’ generosity as we establish this professorship to further patient care, research, and education,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of the Medical Center and UR Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “First-rate surgeons like Peter Knight are part of what attracted me to practice medicine in Rochester. Peter, in particular, makes our community a great place to receive care.” 

Morris and her late husband, Isaac (Drew), devoted much of their time to community service and the restoration and preservation of Main Street, Clifton Springs. Over time, she developed a reputation for vision and generosity that stimulated change and progress. She is now doing that at the Medical Center. Through the Morris Professorship, Morris is helping to advance Knight’s clinical research to expand innovative surgical device development and providing support for additional cardiac research, education, and improved clinical care for generations.

UR Medicine’s cardiac surgeons are at the forefront of the use of cardiac-assist devices and advanced surgical treatments, such as heart transplants and the implantation of pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators. Knight is expanding URMC’s research into less-invasive technology and procedures to improve outcomes for patients.

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

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Strawderman and Bohmann Installed as Foster Professors

Joel Seligman; Dirk Bohmann, Ph.D.; Donald Foster's brother, David Foster, J.D.; Robert Strawderman, Sc.D.; and Mark Taubman, M.D.   

Research is about answering questions. For example, Dirk Bohmann, Ph.D., wants to know how to slow or prevent age-related diseases, like cancer, before their onset. In relation to this, Robert Strawderman, Sc.D., who focuses his work on survival analysis, is exploring new statistical methods to help us better understand how a patient’s age, type of cancer, genomic profile, and treatment plan influence the risk of death and other related events. 

Both scientists are now better equipped to pursue the answers they seek thanks to the generosity of the late Donald M. Foster ’50M (MD).

On August 13, Strawderman, chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, was formally installed as the Donald M. Foster, M.D. Distinguished Professor in Biostatistics, and Bohmann, co-director of the Rochester Aging Research Center (RoAR), was formally installed as the Donald M. Foster, M.D. Professor in Biomedical Genetics.

“Dr. Robert Strawderman and Dr. Dirk Bohmann are proven leaders in their fields and in our classrooms,” said President and CEO Joel Seligman. “I am thrilled to be able to recognize their excellence with these professorships, which we could not have established without the remarkable generosity of Donald Foster. Through Robert, Dirk, and their successors, Donald’s legacy will be forever tied to Medicine of the Highest Order.”

Foster was a longtime contributor to the School of Medicine and Dentistry annual fund and a charter (and lifetime) member of the George Hoyt Whipple Society. To ensure his support was everlasting, he included a generous provision to the University in his estate plans. After his death in 2013, his loyalty and giving were recognized with the creation of the Foster Professorships. His estate gift also helped fully fund the Martha M. Freeman, M.D. Professorship in Biomedical Genetics.

Donors like Foster have helped the School of Medicine and Dentistry establish 52 professorships since the beginning of The Meliora Challenge. And as the School’s dean Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of the Medical Center and UR Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, would say, they are critical for retaining our top faculty who educate and inspire our students, and work on important scientific discoveries.

“Dirk and Robert are exemplary scientists, teachers, and mentors, who are making tremendous contributions to solving major health and health care issues that could impact people around the world,” said Taubman. “They deserve this great honor, and I look forward to seeing the ways in which they continue to lead us to new levels in care, research, and the training of our fellows and students.”

Strawderman has more than 20 years of experience working with interdisciplinary teams of scientists on projects focused on clinical research, health care delivery and evaluation, and various areas of public health. His research includes statistical methods for risk and outcome prediction in medicine and those for evaluating the cost and quality of health care. 

Director of the Genetics, Genomics and Development Graduate Program, Bohmann focuses his research on the molecular biology of gene and cell regulation as it applies to topics such as aging or the movement of cancerous cells in living tissue. He is the author of nearly 100 papers and  received the Wilmot Cancer Institute's Davey Memorial Award for Outstanding Cancer Research in 2010.

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Maxion Family Receives Highland’s Highest Honor

Linda Maxion’s family with Highland Hospital Chaplain Don Marlar (far back) and Bilal Ahmed, M.D., associate chief of medicine at Highland (far right), who were instrumental in Linda’s care and the creation of the garden.   

When Highland Hospital patients need a break from their clinical environment, they don’t have to go far for respite. Since October 2014, they have been able to enjoy the natural spaces and colorful plantings of Linda’s Garden. The outdoor garden offers a serene, open area that provides healthy doses of fresh air and a setting for therapeutic activity, relaxation with friends and family, or meditation. More than anything else, it is a place that promotes healing.

The “healing garden” is the realized vision of its namesake Linda Maxion, who often had extended stays at Highland while battling cancer. Linda lost her battle in April 2013, but not before making a $200,000 gift through the Maxion Family Charitable Fund of the Rochester Area Foundation. Her leadership, support, and love for her community helped bring her idea to life and forever enhanced the patient experience at Highland. 

On August 19, the Highland Hospital Foundation recognized that legacy by presenting Linda's family with its highest honor: the Heritage Award.

Linda Maxion’s vision was transformative and inspirational in the creation of the Healing Garden,” said Mark Eidlin, chairman of the Highland Hospital Foundation’s Board of Directors. “As a patient, volunteer, and champion of Highland, I’m so glad the hospital has Linda’s Garden and that the Foundation is able to recognize Linda’s family with the Heritage Award in her honor.”

The Heritage Award is given to a person or organization whose time, talent, and philanthropic contributions play a significant role at Highland Hospital and within the community. Past recipients include University Trustee Thomas Richards and his wife Betty; Eileen Grossman, co-founder of The Cancer Wellness Spa of Greater Rochester; and Eva Pressman, the Henry A. Thiede Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and her husband, Seth Zeidman, M.D.  

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Special Issue – August 2015: Endowed Professorships


Throughout the University's 2015 fiscal year, endowed professorship support helped advance work in data science, economics, and many areas across the Medical Center, including neurological disease. Commitments from alumni, parents, friends, and faculty and staff have also enabled us to build on a standard of faculty excellence. Endowed professorships give us resources to retain the outstanding scholars and health care providers currently teaching and mentoring our students, and they will allow us to successfully compete for new world-class faculty members in perpetuity.

Our community’s dedication to our faculty is why we have already reached our faculty support goal ($350 million) for The Meliora Challenge and our aspiration to establish a minimum of 80 new endowed professorships. We now have a total of 94 toward our new target of 100 before the Campaign ends on June 30, 2016.

Past issues of Fast Forward covered the creation or celebration of many endowed professorships during fiscal year 2015. You can read about them by following the links below.

You can also find more information on endowed professorships and how they are created in the Endowed Professorships Brochure.