June 2015

A Meliora Message 

At this year’s Garden Party, covered in this issue of Fast Forward, President and CEO Joel Seligman closed his traditional address by expressing that we are lucky to have supporters like you. There are myriad reasons why, and the 2015 Discovery Ball is one of the most recent.

For the last 16 years, the commitments you have made at the Discovery Ball have helped provide vital funding for caregivers, programs, and research at the Wilmot Cancer Institute. This includes gifts that support seed-grants for new and innovative cancer research initiatives that could yield groundbreaking discoveries.

We are, without a doubt, fortunate to be part of such an enthusiastic and compassionate community that supports all aspects of the University's mission. We are also grateful.

Thank you for another year of helping us to be ever better.

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Discovery Ball Honors Local Volunteer Group

Members of the Pancreatic Cancer Association of Western New York are applauded by David Linehan, M.D., director of clinical operations at the Wilmot Cancer Institute, and Hartmut "Hucky" Land, Ph.D., director of research and Robert and Dorothy Markin Professor

Wilmot Cancer Institute’s annual Discovery Ball is highlighted by generosity that enables the continuation of world-class care and research. In that regard, this year’s event was no different. On May 29, more than 600 grateful patients, community members, and UR Medicine faculty and staff filled the grand ballroom of Rochester’s Hyatt Regency and provided more than $480,000 (net) in support for new and innovative cancer research initiatives at the Institute.

Another Discovery Ball highlight is the presentation of the Inspiration Award, which typically recognizes individuals who have helped give cancer patients and their families hope for the future. But for the first time in 16 years, it was given to a group: the Pancreatic Cancer Association of Western New York (PCAWNY). That same night, further demonstrating their worthiness of the award, the all-volunteer group committed $500,000 to support a Pancreatic Cancer Center of Excellence at the Institute.

“Strides are being made with other cancers because they have the funding to support research,” said Mary Ellen Smith, PCAWNY’s associate executive director, who lost her mother to pancreatic cancer. “We want to elevate the importance of funding pancreatic cancer research so equal strides can be made.”

Established in 2009, the PCAWNY is focused on raising awareness about pancreatic cancer, educating the community, and providing support to patients and families affected by the disease. 

In addition to their recent commitment, the group has raised more than $320,000 to support cancer research. This includes seed money that helped the Wilmot Cancer Institute receive a $2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to continue its study of a gene network that controls cancer progression with a focus on pancreatic cancer.

Additional details on the PCAWNY are available in the press release for the Inspiration Award. You can also learn more about the gene study in the press release for the Wilmot Cancer Institute’s grant award.

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Highland Breaks Ground on New Addition

Highland Hospital and Medical Center leaders join President and CEO Joel Seligman in the ceremonial groundbreaking  

Compassion Heals is a motto Highland Hospital demonstrates through a commitment to excellence in its treatment, environment, and overall operation. On June 1, that promise manifested with a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new two-story building addition on the south side of the Highland Hospital campus.

“Highland is dedicated to delivering the highest quality of care and it’s the right time to invest in modernizing our hospital,” said Steven I. Goldstein, M.H.A., president and CEO of Highland and Strong Memorial Hospitals and vice president of UR Medicine. “It’s an exciting time for a great community hospital that also serves as a regional referral center for patients with complex needs.”

The expansion is part of a $28 million project that will enhance patient care through new, modernized facilities and the renovation of existing space, including the new addition that will add approximately 30,000 square feet of space for six new operating rooms and a 26-bed observation unit. The Hospital’s current bed count of 261 will not change; however, patient care areas will have a more efficient design and state-of-the-art equipment.

Highland’s new project will address essential facility-improvement priorities. This includes updating and expanding the perioperative area and creating a space dedicated to short-stay patients, which will enable the conversion of several semi-private inpatient rooms into private rooms.

Construction is expected to begin no later than July and will run for 12 to 18 months with an additional six months of internal renovation in adjacent building space. 

You can find more details about the groundbreaking and project in the official press release.

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48th Garden Party: The Next Level

President and CEO Joel Seligman notes Howard Hanson's role in the early life of the Eastman School of Music  

Understanding the past can help one set a course for the future. President and CEO Joel Seligman showed his appreciation for this concept in his Garden Party address at the Memorial Art Gallery on June 9.

Beginning in 1851, when the University’s original charter was granted, Seligman guided attendees through Rochester’s proud history. Through examples of leadership from past presidents, distinguished faculty, and extraordinary benefactors—among other highlights—he demonstrated an inexorable momentum that has carried the University to a point where it is ready to ascend to "The Next Level.”

Seligman presented four areas the University will focus on to accelerate its progress beyond the aspirations of the 2013–2018 Strategic Plan: Data Science; Neuroscience & Neuromedicine; Humanities & the Performing Arts; and Revitalization of our Community. He punctuated the outline for The Next Level by looking ahead to 2020 when the University aims to be among the nation’s leaders in data science, neuromedicine, and clinical and translational research.

“We’re among the luckiest universities in the world,” said Seligman. “Your support has enabled us to make substantial progress. Together, we’re building an ever better University and an ever stronger community. I look forward to working with all of you as we take the community and our University to the next level.”

Read or watch the full Garden Party address.

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Taubman Formally Invested as URMC CEO

Mark Taubman, M.D., Jan Taubman, and Joel Seligman 

An exemplary leader, physician, scientist, and educator, Mark B. Taubman, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, was formally invested as the chief executive officer of the Medical Center and UR Medicine and senior vice president for health sciences on June 10. Taubman succeeds Bradford Berk ’81M (MD), ’81M (PhD), Distinguished University Professor and director of the Rochester Neurorestoraton Institute (RNI).

Widely respected for his integrity, inclusiveness, and analytical approach to problem-solving, Taubman has demonstrated a commitment to making discoveries that improve health, prevent disease, and promote longevity. And he has the strategic vision, operational sensitivity, and medical and scientific acumen needed to lead a successful academic medical center amid unprecedented change.

“There is no doubt that Mark is the right person for the job,” said President and CEO Joel Seligman. “He has the breadth of understanding, he has the ambition. He is going to take the Medical Center and build on the great momentum that Brad started and take it even further.”

Taubman was appointed in January as the first leader in the University’s history to serve as both Medical Center CEO and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. He was named dean in March 2010, following a nine-month stint as acting CEO while Berk recovered from a spinal cord injury.

“This is a university on the rise,” said Taubman during the ceremony. “We’re attracting better and better students, and better and better faculty. We’re growing our clinical enterprise. We’ve played key roles in developing major vaccines, including the first vaccine to prevent a form of cancer. And the University is now embarking on a data science initiative that will be central to our biomedical research and clinical programs in the years ahead. There could be nothing more exciting than leading the Medical Center at this time.”

You can read more about Dean Taubman and his investiture in the official press release.

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