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Faculty Named to Prestigious Endowed Chairs
Medical School announces appointments in heart disease and medical humanities
Two faculty members at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston have been named to endowed chairs.
These endowments, made possible by private gifts from individuals or foundations, not only carry a prestigious title, but also provide the holder with money for research, projects or equipment.
Stefano Sdringola, M.D.
The Weatherhead Distinguished Chair of Heart Disease
For cardiologist and associate professor of medicine, Stefano Sdringola, M.D., the announcement of his endowed position appointment was a gift in more ways than one.
"I received the communication that I was awarded the Weatherhead Distinguished Chair in Heart Disease last Nov. 29," Sdringola said. "That happens to be my birthday!"
Since his 1994 arrival in Houston, Sdringola has worked with his mentor, cardiologist, K. Lance Gould, M.D., holder of the Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished University Chair in Heart Disease and director of the Weatherhead PET Center for Preventing and Reversing Atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries due to the formation of plaque).
Sdringola said he has "seen the profound impact of lifestyle changes in addition to medications in reversing even advanced coronary artery disease.
"Unfortunately, some of these measures are still going against the current common practice of cardiology and to change this, we surely need all the help we can get."
Development Board member Al Weatherhead III, president of Cleveland, Ohio-based Weatherhead Industries, and his wife, Celia, established the Weatherhead PET Center in 1999. Their gift also helped create Sdringola's endowment and expand the imaging and treatment capabilities of the PET Center.
During the opening of the Weatherhead PET Center in 2005, Al Weatherhead expressed his appreciation for the innovative work of Drs. Gould and Sdringola.
"To be able to treat heart disease non-invasively is a great gift," Weatherhead said. "I am proud to be a part of what you are doing as we walk together into the future. The rest of the world will follow behind us."
Sdringola said he sees his endowed position as "an injection of energy and enthusiasm that further increases my passion for my job. At the same time, I feel a positive sense of responsibility to honor the name and vision of Mr. Weatherhead, who so generously gave us his trust."
Thomas Cole, Ph.D.
The John P. McGovern, M.D., Chair in Medical Humanities
Sir William Osler, a Canadian physician renowned as the Father of Modern Medicine, is noted for saying one must "educate both the head and the heart." This holistic approach is at the core of The John P. McGovern, M.D. Center for Health, Humanities, and the Human Spirit and at the heart of the work of Thomas Cole, Ph.D., director of the center and newly named to The John P. McGovern, M.D., Chair in Medical Humanities.
Interim Medical School Dean Jerry S. Wolinsky, M.D., said, "The McGovern Center is an especially important center for the Medical School - one that uniquely applies the teachings of Sir William Osler in our modern environment. Like Osler, Dr. Cole teaches that a physician must heal also with the heart - not just with the head."
Cole has published several articles and books on the history of aging and humanistic gerontology and produced several documentary films on the subjects.
"This endowed chair will permit the McGovern Center to continue its innovative work, pushing boundaries and developing new research in the area of humane and compassionate medicine and medical education," Cole said.
The three main focus areas of the McGovern Center are medical humanities, ethics and professionalism; health and the human spirit; and medicine, media and the arts. Courses and lectures are aimed at helping students stay attuned to the healing and caring aspects of medicine through listening, observation and compassion.
Investments in the Future
An endowment is a permanent fund designated for a specific purpose by the donor, for example, a professorship in a specific field of study, a lecture series, scholarships or special awards. Earned income from the endowment account is used for that specified purpose, while the principal is never used; thus, the endowment is held in perpetuity.
"We are enormously grateful to the generous donors who make these endowments possible. These important gifts represent absolutely critical investments in the future of The University of Texas Health Science Center and each of its schools," said James T. Willerson, M.D., president of the UT Health Science Center at Houston. "The Weatherhead and McGovern families are extremely generous and far-sighted people."
Wolinsky added that the availability of endowments can be a deciding factor for educators and scientists when choosing a university in which to carry on their work.
"Faculty endowments are essential to the recruitment and retention of our top-notch educators, clinicians and researchers," Wolinsky said. "We rely on the generosity of our benefactors who wisely choose to fund these mentors of tomorrow's physicians."
Endowments also serve as a crucial retention tool to honor faculty and researchers. Endowed scholarships attract top students and help the institution fulfill its mission of providing excellence in education, as is the case of an endowed lecture series, fellowship or award, as well.
By Wendy K. Mohon, Institutional Advancement
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