Department of Surgery Triples Its Named Chairs and Professorships in 2015
The University of Wisconsin Department of Surgery raised $17.5 million and established 11 new chairs and professorships in 2015, increasing the number of endowments within the department from five to 16.
“The number of new chairs and professorships in our department is truly unprecedented,” says K. Craig Kent, MD, A.R. Curreri Professor of Surgery and chairman of the Department of Surgery. “These endowments create countless opportunities for our faculty to further our mission to provide exceptional patient care, pursue innovative research and train the next generation of surgeons. Our faculty is using these gifts to turn ideas into reality and advance the field of surgery.”
Sharon Weber, MD, holds the Tim and Mary Ann McKenzie Professorship in Surgical Oncology. The McKenzie family created this professorship earlier this year to support Weber’s work in finding a cure for pancreatic cancer.
“Research into pancreatic cancer is ridiculously underfunded nationally, despite its high mortality rate,” Weber explains. “Our goal is to build a cadre of researchers to study pancreatic cancer across many departments here at UW, where there is such depth in multiple scholarly areas.”
Weber has utilized funding from her professorship to establish an advanced pancreatic cancer tissue bank for researchers and a pancreas cancer research pilot program on campus.
In the first year, the funding supported projects in pancreatic cancer research in the Departments of Surgery, Medicine, and Biomedical Engineering, and the School of Pharmacy. Applications are currently open for a second round of pilot grants.
“These pilot projects are immensely important because they allow researchers to establish preliminary data, which in turn gives them a base to apply for more funding through sources such as the National Institutes of Health,” Weber explains. “This essentially allows the research money to multiply over time.”
While named chairs and professorships support research and clinical programs, the gifts also honor the individuals who gave money.
Susan Behrens, MD, and her husband, David M. Look, established the Susan Behrens, MD, Class of 1975 Surgery Education Professorship last year. As a 1975 graduate of the UW medical school, Behrens wanted to support a program that would benefit all medical students.
“My medical training at the UW, along with the fact that my mom and David’s mom were both teachers, influenced our decision to establish a professorship that would encourage the teaching of surgical principles,” Behrens explains.
In September 2015, Professor of Surgery Carla Pugh, MD, PhD, a nationally renowned expert in surgical education, was installed as the inaugural recipient of the Behrens professorship.
“David and I enjoy knowing that we have a small part in sponsoring Carla’s important work,” Behrens says. “Her talents, ingenuity and leadership are bringing surgical training into the 21st century.”
The Department of Surgery’s fundraising success was made possible through gifts from individual donors and a $125 million gift to the University of Wisconsin-Madison from John and Tashia Morgridge. The Morgridge gift offered one-to-one matching funds for any donor who made a gift to endow a professorship, a chair or a distinguished chair. Ten of the 11 new surgery funds utilized this opportunity.
Across the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Morgridge match raised a total of $250 million for faculty positions. By the time these gifts are paid, the number of endowed professorships and chairs at the University of Wisconsin will double, from 142 to 300.
The University of Wisconsin Department of Surgery has been providing surgical excellence to the state of Wisconsin for 91 years. More than 100 full-time faculty members perform approximately 22,000 operations annually for adult and pediatric patients in the specialties of cardiothoracic surgery, general surgery, otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, transplant surgery, and vascular surgery. The Department of Surgery has been a national top 10 NIH-funded institution for three years running.
Date Published: 11/24/2015