Fueling RUSH’s Future

Donor-supported endowments drive the work of RUSH University faculty members in perpetuity
From left to right: Kumar B. Rajan, PhD; Amina Ahmed, MD; John W. Burns, PhD; Kerstin Stenson, MD, FACS; and Monique Reed, PhD, MS, RN, FAAN.
From left to right: Kumar B. Rajan, PhD; Amina Ahmed, MD; John W. Burns, PhD; Kerstin Stenson, MD, FACS; and Monique Reed, PhD, MS, RN, FAAN.

At a ceremony held on March 13, RUSH University honored five faculty members with appointments to endowed professorships made possible thanks to the generosity of philanthropic partners. Endowed faculty positions are the highest honor bestowed by the University and demonstrate confidence in and commitment to RUSH’s mission and future.

“Endowed chairs and professorships amplify and distinguish the work of RUSH University faculty,” said Christine M. Kennedy, PhD, RN, FAAN, the John L. and Helen Kellogg Dean of the RUSH University College of Nursing and interim provost and vice president of RUSH University. “These generous investments support the work of top scholars, researchers and educators who are addressing urgent scientific challenges and guiding the next generation of learners. Donors are our partners in fostering this pursuit of excellence and groundbreaking innovations.”

At the March ceremony, RUSH appointed the following faculty members to endowed positions:

Including the five recent appointments, RUSH University has more than 100 endowed faculty positions, which are critical to the university’s vision. The endowments provide financial resources in perpetuity to fuel the work of leading faculty and support efforts to recruit and retain world-renowned experts dedicated to improving health for all.

The John and Alice Sabl Professorship in Alzheimer’s Disease and Neurological Sciences Research was established by John Sabl, a RUSH University Medical Center Trustee, and his wife, Alice, in 2021. They were inspired, in part, by David A. Bennett, MD, the Robert C. Borwell Professor of Neurological Sciences and director of the RUSH Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

“We have supported Alzheimer’s research for over 30 years and established this endowment to fuel RUSH’s ability to make a lasting impact,” John said. “We are impressed by the work being led by the RUSH Alzheimer’s Disease Center and Dr. Bennett. We look forward to the research that Dr. Rajan and his colleagues will produce.”

Dr. Rajan intends to use the professorship to build upon his work on health disparities and aging, particularly related to racial and ethnic variations in Alzheimer’s disease across the United States.

The Carole B. and Gordon I. Segal Professorship of Women’s Cancer Issues was established in 2010 to support and accelerate research focused on a spectrum of common cancers that affect women. Among the many committees Carole is a part of at RUSH, she is a RUSH University Medical Center director and chair of the RUSH University Board of Governors from 2009 to 2021. She and Gordon are longtime RUSH donors.

“We established this endowment as part of our longstanding advocacy for women’s cancer issues,” Carole said. “We are excited to see what Dr. Stenson and RUSH can accomplish with this support and hopeful for a healthier future for all people with cancer.”

Dr. Stenson intends to use the endowment to focus on advancing understanding of thyroid cancer, which is much more common among women.

The George D. Wilbanks, MD, Professorship of Gynecologic Oncology was established by the Lester B. Knight Charitable Trust; along with the generosity of Dr. Wilbanks, his patients and colleagues; and The Woman's Board of RUSH University Medical Center. It is designed to further the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer through education and research.

“The long-term goal we’re working toward in the RUSH Cancer Center is to create a geriatric oncology program,” Dr. Ahmed said. “If we can tailor our treatment for older patients, their outcomes will be better and toxicity will be lessened.”

The Cynthia Oudejans Harris, MD, Professorship of Psychiatry was established in memory of Cynthia Oudejans Harris, MD, a philanthropist who dedicated her life to the practice of psychiatric medicine. Dr. Harris was the daughter of former RUSH Trustee Stanley G. Harris Sr. and the sister of former Life Trustee Stanley G. Harris Jr.

The current holder of the professorship, Dr. Burns, studies interventions to reduce chronic pain and improve functioning. The professorship will enable him to expand his research team and dedicate more time to this important work.

The Independence Foundation Professorship of Nursing Education was established in 1989 by the Pennsylvania-based foundation to advance nursing education and promote the pivotal role of nursing in the 21st century.

“I am grateful to the foundation for this generous gift to support nurse educators,” said Dr. Reed, the holder of the professorship. “This funding will be an important part of my research journey, allowing me to continue my work addressing health disparities and supporting underserved communities.”

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