On October 19, Chancellor Don Elliman welcomed more than 75 guests to the first annual Endowed Chair Celebration at the Parkside Mansion in Denver to celebrate the power of philanthropy. Both benefactors and chair holders were in attendance to meet and talk about the incredible work fueled by philanthropic support.
Guest speakers included Slater Family Endowed Chair Malik Kahook and benefactor Craig Slater. This endowed chair has given Dr. Kahook the valuable gift of time to develop groundbreaking technologies and therapies. “Holding an endowed chair is one of the biggest honors for a professor at a university,” said Dr. Kahook. “And this one is special because of the personal relationship I’ve developed with Craig.”
Inspired to Give
Slater and his wife, Colleen, have wrestled with which organizations to support throughout their careers. Slater said, “Philanthropy is hard. It sounds easy at first, but we have found that it’s more difficult than we thought.” Finding an organization whose mission aligns, has sound financial practices and the dedicated professionals to follow through can be daunting. But that’s just what they found at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. “This is one of the gifts we feel the best about and know that we are making a difference,” said Craig.
Dr. Naresh Mandava, Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Chair in Retinal Diseases and director of the UCHealth Eye Center, introduced Dr. Kahook and the Slaters after learning of Craig’s interest in fueling scientific discovery. After a two-hour dinner with Dr. Kahook, Craig knew this was the place to invest. In 2013, he and Colleen created the Slater Family Endowed Chair to give Dr. Kahook the funding to pursue innovative research and get new therapies and technologies to patients quicker than ever before. Dr. Kahook said, “What excited me is that just in the last 11 years since I came to CU, we’ve spun out eight different companies and filed over 100 patents. Right now, the number one growing glaucoma surgical device is the dual blade that we developed right here.” The Kahook Dual Blade is being used in eye centers around the country and is projected to bring upwards of $1 million to the university in royalties next year.
The Gift of Site
When internationally recognized painter Philip Tarlow learned he had a cataract and glaucoma in his right eye and would need surgery, he panicked. “My eyes are my life and the prospect of eye surgery was terrifying.” He chose UCHealth Eye Center because of its outstanding reputation. “From the moment I met Dr. Leonard Seibold, I relaxed and knew I was in the presence of a truly great surgeon.” He evaluated Tarlow’s condition and performed a combination glaucoma-cataract surgery using the Kahook Dual Blade, both pioneered at Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute.
The very next day after surgery, Tarlow was back in his studio painting. “Although I knew it would take time for my eye to fully heal, even at that early stage, my vision was good enough for me to paint. My gratitude for the center and Dr. Seibold’s mastery and superb communication style with patients, is profound. I also work with kids and have touched the lives of thousands, with plans to touch thousands more. For all those who support the work of the UCHealth Eye Center, know that you are not only touching the life of one patient; often that person’s work in the world goes on to touch many more. The impact of your giving is far more than you can imagine!”
Philanthropy Full Circle
This is philanthropy at its best – where generosity was transformed into life-altering technology. The Kahook Dual Blade is just one example of the innovative work happening at CU Anschutz. There are currently 94 fully-funded endowed chairs on campus, and each one is producing tangible benefits for the field of health care and helping propel CU Anschutz to new heights. “Not a day goes by that we aren’t trying to recruit someone or keep someone on campus, and endowed chairs are powerful tools to keep the very best talent in Colorado,” said Chancellor Elliman.