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.   


July 2015

A Meliora Message 

At the dedication for the new Golisano Children’s Hospital, May 27, the state-of-the-art facilities with its warm, playful features—not to mention the adorable parade of children—stole the show. And they were, again, on full display when the Hospital opened to the public earlier this month. Not as prominent, but equally as important, are the many programs benefitting from this space dedicated to children and their families.

Take, for example, the Wegmans Child Life Program. Specialists within this program care for the emotional and developmental needs of children and families, including coaching parents on communicating with their children during traumatic times. The program’s name recognizes the generosity of the Wegman Family Foundation. In April 2014, the Foundation committed $7 million to the Children’s Hospital, of which $1 million will be used to establish an endowment to increase the quality of Child Life programs, services, and facilities.

An area similar to the Wegmans Child Life Program is pediatric social work, which helps reduce the stress and emotional trauma that families experience when a child is injured or becomes ill. One of the biggest differences between the two areas is resources. Social work is one of many other programs that would benefit greatly from gifts and endowed support.

Thanks to you, we have a beautiful, world-class building to meet the health care needs of western New York’s citizens. Let’s keep working together to ensure that it is also filled with world-class services and programs.

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Cause for Celebration: Fiscal Year 2015 

It was March 25. President and CEO Joel Seligman stood before an audience of University volunteers, faculty, and staff when he announced an $11 million commitment from Trustee Bob Goergen ’60 and his wife, Pamela, had pushed The Meliora Challenge beyond its initial $1.2 billion goal. It was, without a doubt, the shining moment of the University’s 2015 fiscal year, which ended on June 30, but it was a much broader effort that made the year a success.  

Surpassing the goal for total Campaign contributions more than a year ahead of schedule was made possible by the entire University community. When the book on the fiscal year closed, the Campaign stood at more than $1.23 billion.  

The contributions of alumni, parents, friends, faculty, and staff enabled the University to exceed the year's goals for cash and commitments by more than 10 percent, reaching $110.9 million and $137 million, respectively. Building on the momentum continuously supplied by George Eastman Circle memberships (3,174 at year-end), the Annual Fund had its best year ever, finishing with $14.84 million for a ninth consecutive year of growth. And as a first for the Campaign, undergraduate alumni participation exceeded 20 percent.

In the year ahead, the University’s priorities will include creating more scholarships and fellowships, while focusing on support for additional capital projects and programs.

Overall, the fiscal year’s results warrant celebration. More than any other indicator, it is the community-wide participation that portends further goal accomplishment and success in the next fiscal year and beyond.

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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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May 2015

A Meliora Message 

During commencement weekend, May 15 through May 17, the University conferred more than 2,200 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

For students, the pomp and circumstance began either on Alumni Road or within Eastman’s Douglas Lowry Hall, awaiting their respective processions onto the Eastman Quad and into Kodak Hall—the last leg of a long journey.

The road to graduation is a unique experience, giving every student a different perspective on its end. Mortarboard messages conveyed the full range: achievement (“Now hotter by one degree”), the beginning of something new (“Be the change”), and the end of something great (“How lucky I am to have something so hard to say goodbye to”). 

Commencement is the mountain top, and as such, a source of unadulterated joy. Graduates had smiles cemented to their faces and were not shy about breaking out into dance. Because most, if not all, students had help along the way, commencement was also a time for profuse gratitude, made clear by a never-ending string of warm handshakes, spirited high-fives, and loving hugs.

Some of you have experienced this gratitude first hand as scholarship or fellowship donors. Without you, many of these students’ journeys could not have begun. And now they are moving forward with lighter debt loads, freer to pursue a career that they love. Thank you for helping our graduates follow their passion and enabling a new class to begin to explore theirs. 

Please enjoy these photo galleries from this year’s commencement weekend. The Simon School will confer its degrees on June 7. 

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New Children's Hospital Makes Grand Debut

Ribbons cut, cheers erupt, and confetti flies as the new Golisano Children's Hospital is dedicated  

After years of planning and construction, and the combined efforts of thousands of administrators, faculty, staff, donors, patients and families, UR Medicine’s new Golisano Children’s Hospital made its smashing debut on Wednesday, May 27.

That afternoon’s joyous dedication ceremony featured remarks from a variety of dignitaries, including the Hospital’s namesake and lead donor, B. Thomas Golisano.

“The only wealth that you get to keep is that which you give away,” Golisano said, paraphrasing Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. Golisano’s $20 million donation to the Hospital in 2011 kickstarted construction of the facility. “I know some day I’m not going to be here, but this building will be here, and that’s our ongoing wealth.”

At $145 million, the new Hospital is the largest capital project in the University’s history. It encompasses 245,000 square feet spread out over eight floors, and all that room is being used in exciting ways. Among its features, the Hospital will include all private rooms and specialized technology, such as the first integrated PET/MRI in a children’s hospital in the nation, dedicated to healing sick and injured children. It is set to open its doors to the community in July.

The traditional ribbon cutting was made more festive and especially meaningful with the inclusion of more than 20 children, all former patients of the Hospital, who marched through the crowd carrying a paper chain made from patients’ and families’ hand-drawn pictures, stickers, and messages of thanks. Together, the leaders on stage and the young participants cut their respective ribbons while confetti rained down on all.

For more on the auspicious day, watch a video of the dedication ceremony, and read the official press release, which includes in-depth information about the Hospital’s amenities.


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Aab Names Atrium to Honor Friend 

Tansukh Ganatra and Rick Aab  

It is not hard to see why a child would approach a hospital in the same way they would a haunted house. Hospitals are generally big, aesthetically cold places filled with things children should not, and likely do not want to, touch. The Ganatra Family Atrium, a light-filled, two-story space featuring a playful design, sends a message that is loud and clear to children and families who enter Golisano Children’s Hospital: this is a special hospital.

The atrium was named for the Ganatra Family as part of a $3 million commitment to the Golisano Children’s Hospital Building Fund by serial entrepreneur and Trustee Richard (Rick) T. Aab. Deferring recognition for his gift, Aab chose to honor his closeness with the Ganatra Family, particularly his friendship with Tansukh Ganatra, with whom he co-founded US LEC Corp., a telecommunications company based in Charlotte, N.C., as well as several other successful telecommunications companies during the past 30 years.

“Rick Aab is a valued friend of the University and Medical Center who has provided incredibly generous support as well as steadfast leadership toward the fulfillment of our mission,” said President Joel Seligman. “As our clinical leaders envision the programs and facility needs that enable us to deliver groundbreaking research and medical care, Rick is helping us to make these ambitious plans a reality."

Rick’s recent gift brings his total support for The Meliora Challenge to $7 million. In 2007, Aab made a $4 million commitment to support the URMC’s Cardiology Research Institute. The University recognized his generosity by naming the institute the Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute.

“Ensuring that children have access to the best possible health care is a cause that’s very important to me,” said Aab, vice chair for the University’s Campaign Cabinet and co-chair of the URMC campaign. “Construction of an all-new children’s hospital has long been a vision for the URMC. I’m proud to have been part of the years of planning, advocacy and the community funding campaign that made this significant achievement possible. It has been very gratifying to work alongside the leadership of the University and the URMC as they have established the leading children’s hospital for my hometown of Rochester and the entire region."

Golisano Children’s Hospital will open this coming July. Funding for the building’s construction was led by commitments like Aab’s and supported by gifts from more than 8,500 individuals and community groups.

You can read more about Rick and his gift in the official press release.

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Huxlin Installed as the Aquavella Professor in Ophthalmology

President Joel Seligman, James Aquavella, M.D., Krystel Huxlin, M.D., Steve Feldon, M.D., director of Flaum Eye Institute, and Mark Taubman, M.D. 

During his remarks at the University of Rochester’s most recent endowed professorship installation on May 20, Mark Taubman, M.D., found the perfect word in which to ground his introduction. 


He used it to make three points. “We are honoring two visionary individuals who have pushed the boundaries of science and medicine,” said Taubman, CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center and UR Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “And they happen to be working in a field in which they are interested in improving vision. Simply put, they want to restore vision to those whose sight is severely impaired.”

Those individuals are Krystel R. Huxlin, Ph.D., and James V. Aquavella, M.D., and they have more than six decades of combined experience as internationally renowned ophthalmologists. Huxlin is the director of research at the URMC’s David and Ilene Flaum Eye Institute and has secondary appointments in the departments of neurobiology & anatomy and brain & cognitive sciences. She holds four patents and focuses her work on understanding how the adult visual system repairs itself. Aquavella is a specialist in cornea and external eye disease and was the first fellowship-trained corneal surgeon in the United States. Aquavella came to the University of Rochester in 1977; Huxlin arrived in 1995. 

After identifying the honorees, Taubman explored his third point. “In Jim’s case, he is a visionary philanthropist. He understands that in order for us to remain the great institution we are and to move to the next level, we need to create endowed professorships.”

And few professorships carry as much emotion as those provided by Aquavella. His $4 million commitment, which enabled the creation of the Catherine E. Aquavella Distinguished Professorship in Ophthalmology and the James V. Aquavella, M.D. Professorship in Ophthalmology, was made to honor the memory of his late wife, Kay, a nurse and administrator, who was committed to the establishment of the Flaum Eye Institute. Huxlin was installed as the James V. Aquavella Professor; Aquavella, himself, will serve in the role of the Catherine E. Aquavella Distinguished Professor in an honorary capacity. The Aquavella Distinguished Professorship endowment will continue to grow until the next professor is selected.

Not only do these professorships ensure the University retains top talent, they also provide crucial support so that Huxlin can continue translating her lab’s scientific discoveries into medicine that benefits patients. Future corneal researchers can also build on Aquavella’s work, which in some cases has restored sight to children and infants.  

“The creation of an endowed professorship can be very personal,” said President Joel Seligman. “I really can’t recall an occasion more personal than these endowed professorships. Jim and Kay were as close as two people could be, and if Kay were with us, the idea that her professorship would be initially held by Jim would be deeply meaningful to her. I know also how much it means to Jim that the professorship created in his name initially will be held by so beloved and talented a colleague as Krystel. The creation of the two Aquavella professorships is a wonderful event.” 

You can read more about the establishment of the Aquavella professorships in the November 2013 issue of Fast Forward.

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Meliora Weekend 2015


Celebrate the University of Rochester at our 15th Meliora Weekend, October 8 through October 11. Renowned author and biographer Walter Isaacson will deliver the weekend’s keynote address on October 10. Issacson’s 2011 book, Steve Jobs, is being adapted into a major motion picture directed by Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle. 

Headlining the entertainment is Emmy- and Tony Award-winner Kristin Chenoweth, who will perform at the Eastman Theatre as part of the Eastman Presents series on October 9.

Meliora Weekend features class reunions, Yellowjacket sports, gallery exhibitions, our exclusive series of MEL Talks and much, much more. There is truly something for everyone. 

More information, including a full schedule and registration links, is coming soon. We’ll see you at Meliora Weekend!

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