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. 

[Go to Top]

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.

[Go to Top]

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.

 [Go to Top]

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 Goergen 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 Goergen 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.

 [Go to Top]

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« April 2015 | Main | February 2015 »