In an emotional evening attended by Lurie Children’s donors, hospital leaders, colleagues, patient families and family members and friends, three distinguished members of the hospital’s Division of Hematology, Oncology, Neuro-oncology and Stem Cell Transplant were recently invested with endowed chairs. The investees included Jason Fangusaro, MD, the Gus Foundation Chair in Neuro-oncology; Stewart Goldman, MD, the Meryl Suzanne Weiss Distinguished Professor in Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation; and David Walterhouse, MD, the Richard A. Perritt, MD Professor in Cancer and Blood Disorders.
In their acceptance remarks, Drs. Fangusaro, Goldman and Walterhouse inspired the audience as they shared their excitement about the increasing role precision medicine is playing in treating and curing childhood cancers. The remarks had a special resonance for many in the room, especially those whose lives had been directly touched by the devastating effects of pediatric cancers.
Investitures are formal ceremonies that are among the oldest traditions in academia, dating to the Middle Ages. At Lurie Children’s, these ceremonies not only honor the recipients of endowed positions, they also acknowledge and celebrate the foresight of the donors whose gifts make these positions possible.
An endowed chair is academic medicine’s highest honor, one that is reserved for the best and brightest leaders in medicine and science. Because endowed positions are supported by the earnings of permanent funds, they provide ongoing financial support for patient care, research and education for the chair holder’s specialty area. They elevate Lurie Children’s stature as a national leader, and also make it possible for us to recruit national leaders to our medical faculty. And because endowments are a self-sustaining source of funding, they represent an investment by our donors in improving the health of children both today and in the future.
Here are some brief excerpts from Dr. Fangusaro, Goldman and Walterhouse’s remarks.
Dr. Jason Fangusaro, Section Head of Neuro-oncology:
I want to acknowledge the families that have been a part of my life along this journey, and whose children I’ve been blessed to take care of. These families have taught me lessons that I carry with me as I take care of the next child and the next child after that. Many of those families are here tonight, and I’d like to say “thank you” to them — not only for teaching me lessons, but for their continued generosity in supporting our program and our research. Without you, we would not be moving forward at the pace that we are.
Dr. Stewart Goldman, Head of the Division of Hematology, Oncology, Neuro-oncology and Stem Cell Transplant:
I’d like to thank the Weiss family for their generous support. This support will enable our team to accelerate our vision for the future, as we embark on this most exciting time and change in oncology: the development of a precision medicine initiative. This will allow us to better understand how cancers and blood disorders develop. It will take us to a place where we’re not treating a child with a specific diagnosis the same way we treated the last 100 kids with that same diagnosis. It’s going allow us to make individual treatments that will be less toxic and result in better outcomes for kids with liquid cancers, solid cancers and brain tumors, and also improve the lives of these survivors of childhood cancer.
Dr. David Walterhouse, Section Head of Oncology:
During my career, I’ve used diverse strategies to try to establish better ways to treat children with cancer. In the laboratory we cloned a human oncogene, based on the fact that it was important during fruit fly embryonic development and was essentially unchanged throughout evolution. We now know that this gene is active in about one-third of all human cancers. The goal of my lab now is to apply the knowledge we have gained through this basic research and to develop treatments that specifically target this gene. In my clinical research, I oversaw a clinical trial of a therapy for children with low-risk rhabdomyosarcoma. This trial showed that 98 percent of these children survived using a treatment protocol with low toxicity, and it has established a standard of care that will be used to treat children with this form of cancer. With the support of the Perritt Charitable Foundation and the Tyrpin family, who oversee it, I can continue to improve the lives of children with cancer.
To learn more about how to fund an endowed chair or to support the Division of Hematology, Oncology, Neuro-oncology and Stem Cell Transplant, contact Erin Markuson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312.227.7324.