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Invested faculty, inspired by donors, offer thanks for essential support

By Kristen O’Reilly

UMass Medical School Communications

September 19, 2013
Four faculty members were invested as named professors at Investiture. From left: Dale L. Greiner, PhD; Silvia Corvera, MD; Ellen M. Gravallese, MD; Catarina I. Kiefe, MD, PhD; and Chancellor Michael F. Collins.

Four distinguished faculty members were officially invested as named professors at the 2013 Investiture Ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 19. And they, in turn, gave thanks to the benefactors who made the honors possible.

“The Bermans and the Berman family have taken a major step to facilitate the research at UMass, now and in the future. It is our turn to repay them with results for their belief in an investment in UMass that is a fitting tribute to Dr. Eileen Berman,” said Dale L. Greiner, PhD, professor of molecular medicine, who was invested as the Dr. Eileen L. Berman and Stanley I. Berman Foundation Chair in Biomedical Research.

“Thank you, Melvin and Sandra Cutler, for your very generous gift and for honoring our line of work. I hope to live up to it,” said Catarina I. Kiefe, MD, PhD, chair and professor of quantitative health sciences and professor of medicine, who was invested as the Melvin S. and Sandra L. Cutler Chair in Biomedical Research. “Most might see this moment as an honor. I see it mostly as an honor of our line of work and an affirmation of science that makes a difference.”

Faculty members who receive named professorships are recognized for distinction in their fields. Creating an endowment to fund a named professorship allows donors to contribute to the enrichment and vitality of the academic and scientific environment. Interest from the endowment created by a donor may be used to support the faculty member’s scholarly and research needs.

“When friends and benefactors decide to invest in the UMass Medical School, they demonstrate in a public and profound way their confidence in our institution and their commitment to our future success,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins. “To our benefactors, please know that your confidence inspires us and your generosity propels us forward.”

Ellen M. Gravallese, MD, professor of medicine and cell & developmental biology, was invested as the Myles J. McDonough Chair in Rheumatology. She said she was honored to get to know Myles McDonough in the last few years before his death in 2012. McDonough suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and was treated at UMass Memorial for 25 years by Katherine Upchurch, MD, clinical professor of medicine.

“This endowed chair is deeply meaningful, because it enhances our ability to continue Myles’ own personal quest to conquer inflammatory arthritis. I am particularly pleased that this chair will remain within the department within perpetuity and support future generations of rheumatologists,” said Dr. Gravellese, the chair’s inaugural recipient.

Silvia Corvera, MD, professor of molecular medicine and cell & developmental biology, was invested as the Endowed Chair in Diabetes Research, given by an anonymous donor.

“The understanding of a problem that we gain from science doesn’t always tell you how to solve the problem. It is a necessary start, but it is not in and of itself a solution," Dr. Corvera said. "Finding a solution to disease requires more. It requires finding tricks and tools, outsmarting biology. It involves taking chances and risks and enduring many failures.”

Private gifts, even anonymous ones, are essential in this process, she said: “In providing this support, you become our partners, part and parcel, in the scientific effort to find cures for diseases that affect us all.”

UMass Worcester currently has 36 named professorships, precious and essential resources for the institution. Endowments increase UMass Worcester’s ability to attract and retain individuals distinguished in their fields.

Related links on UMassMedNow:

Dr. Eileen L. Berman and Stanley I. Berman Foundation Chair in Biomedical Research established
Cutlers endow biomedical research chair; Kiefe is first recipient
New McDonough chair will support research in rheumatology