Exceptional faculty

Alumni endowed professorships support full range of faculty efforts

Alan C. Braverman, MD, with cardiology patient Bill Stobbs.

Alan C. Braverman, MD, with cardiology patient Bill Stobbs.

BY Diane Duke Williams

For clinician Alan C. Braverman, MD, having an endowed professorship is a tremendous honor.

“I am very grateful to the alumni for this professorship,” says Braverman, the Alumni Endowed Professor of Cardiovascular Diseases. “Washington University is an incredible research facility, and we also want to be known for providing excellent clinical care. When we give these professorships to clinicians, it highlights the mission of the medical school in research and clinical care.”

In addition to his clinical practice, which covers all aspects of noninvasive cardiology, Braverman is a nationally known authority on genetically triggered aortic diseases such as Marfan syndrome and thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections.

Braverman’s professorship helps him conduct clinical research projects on aortic dissections and aneurysms that would not have been possible other-
wise. It also provides support for the Washington University Marfan Syndrome and Genetically Triggered Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Clinic.

Endowed professorships help to attract and retain exceptional faculty like Braverman, and these professorships are among the highest honors that a university can bestow on its researchers, clinicians and teachers.

In 1978, the Alumni Endowed Professorship program was established with the goal of creating one professorship in each department of the School of Medicine. The professorships are funded by unrestricted gifts of $1,000 and greater from medical alumni and former house staff.

To date, the program has funded nine professorships. The first Alumni Endowed Professorship at the School of Medicine, established in 1982, was held by Philip Needleman, PhD, in the Department of Pharmacology.  

The first endowed professorships, supported by private philanthropy, were established at the School of Medicine in 1910. To date, 159 professorships, including alumni endowed, have been created. These professorships have helped propel the medical school into the world-renowned institution it has become.

With endowed professorships, the income from permanently invested funds provides salary, benefits and research support. Endowed professorships guarantee a stream of funding that helps to offset the vagaries of external research funding, which often enables researchers to pursue projects at the frontiers of current knowledge and understanding.

An endowed professorship continues as long as the university endures, representing a commitment to support and sustain the advancement of the medical school.

Through the work of faculty such as Braverman and Jeanne M. Nerbonne, PhD, Alumni Endowed Professor of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology, new knowledge is created and the next generation of physicians and scientists is trained.

It was an incredible honor to receive the Alumni Endowed Professorship in Molecular Biology and Pharmacology in 2001, says Jeanne M. Nerbonne, PhD. She admits, however, that at the time she had little idea of what that honor would mean in practical terms.

“Over the years, the impact of the salary support provided by the professorship has moved my laboratory’s research in new directions and has allowed us to pursue new initiatives as opportunities presented themselves, rapidly broadening the scope and impact of our work,” she says.

She adds that a clear case in point is the recent establishment of the Translational Cardiovascular Tissue Core at Washington University, a multi-investigator, collaborative effort that Nerbonne is leading with additional seed funding from the Institute for Clinical and Translation Sciences (ICTS) and the Children’s Discovery Institute.

Such initiatives are what keep Washington University School of Medicine at the forefront of medical science and patient care. Alumni Endowed Professorship are just one of many ways to show support for the school’s mission.

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