“Science looks for answers, but they’re not always found,” says Eileen Tietze.
You might think this matter-of-fact assessment of the research process came from a scientist — one who’s learned that some experiments yield results, while others yield more questions. Not so. Eileen Tietze and her husband, Larry, are longtime contributors to UW Medicine.
The Tietzes are both realistic and optimistic, a quality they share with the other friends we profile in our annual Report to Donors. These friends include two attorneys who helped create a rehabilitation program for patients with spinal-cord injuries, as well as several families who are creating scholarships for medical students.
With all of our friends — nearly 16,000 individuals and organizations in all — UW Medicine raised more than $127 million in gifts and grants this past fiscal year. It’s a wonderful investment in our work in research, education and patient care.
It’s also a wonderful show of optimism, one for which my colleagues and I are grateful. Thank you very much for your generosity.
Lynn K. Hogan
Associate Vice President and
Chief Advancement Officer
UW Medicine Advancement
15,896 individuals and organizations
Of interest: 2,414 UW Medicine alumni gave more than $2 million in gifts and grants over the past fiscal year.
Total: $137,228,784 in gifts and grants
Of interest: UW Medicine received more than $4.3 million from donors who supported our work through their estates.
Many contributors created or augmented endowments, invested funds that support UW Medicine’s work in perpetuity. More than $9.9 million in gifts and grants were directed to the endowment in the last fiscal year.
“If anything comes along that will help move Spokane forward in a big way, the Clacks will be right in the middle of it,” says Ken Roberts, Ph.D., director of Spokane’s first-year WWAMI medical education program.
With a recent gift to UW Medicine and with other advocacy efforts, Spokane community members Mari and David Clack are proving Roberts right. The Clacks are key members of an educational movement involving partnership and innovation at the personal level and between the University of Washington (UW) and Washington State University (WSU).
The story — and the Clacks’ gift — begins with medical students from the state of Washington who are enrolled in the WWAMI Spokane program.
In the 1970s, the UW School of Medicine began work with other Northwest educational institutions, politicians and community members to educate students who would stay in the Pacific Northwest to practice medicine. The program — which would eventually involve Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho — became known as WWAMI. Although Spokane had been part of WWAMI for many years by training third- and fourth-year students during their clinical phase, it wasn’t until 2008 that a cohort of first-year medical students began to train on the WSU Spokane (Riverpoint) campus. These students joined similar WWAMI cohorts already established in other states and on the WSU Pullman campus.
Given the Clacks’ extensive experience in business and community advocacy, they began to explore the vast potential in this UW-WSU collaboration. The Clacks have one major goal in mind: training doctors to practice in Eastern Washington, where doctors are very much needed.
There’s a certain domino effect, explains Roberts, that begins in the first year of medical school.
“We want students to see that Spokane is a great community, so we want to expose them to local doctors and to community-oriented social events in that first year,” Roberts says. “If they have a good experience, they’re more likely to return for clinical training during their third and fourth years. If they do that, they’re much more likely to consider completing their residency training here. And doctors tend to settle and practice near their residency site.”
Social events help first-year students feel at home in Spokane, and that’s where the Clacks have focused their giving. “It’s a very modest beginning, but you have to start somewhere,” says David Clack. Encouraging community engagement in the WWAMI program itself is the Clacks’ next step. “We’ve found that when we get people out to the campus and they walk around, and we show them what’s happening, they get really excited,” says Mari Clack, a former University of Washington regent.
The excitement will likely build as the UW and WSU work together on a new piece of the WWAMI program: a pilot project that would test the feasibility of teaching second-year students at the Spokane site. To date, student training has only been offered in the first year and during the clinical training phase in the third and fourth years — and all medical students spend their second year in Seattle. But a pilot could place all four years of the WWAMI program in Spokane.
“I’m a believer in collaboration,” Mari says. When it comes to medical care for the WWAMI region, she adds, “we’re all in this together.”
Hard work, long hours, years of expensive training — that’s the life of a medical student. On top of that, imagine being a medical student raising several children. Susan S. Huckabay and her late husband, Durward A. (“Huck”) Huckabay, Jr., didn’t have to use much imagination to picture that scenario. It is part of their family history.
Huck’s father, Durward A. Huckabay, was in medical school in the early 1900s when his parents died, leaving him responsible for orphaned siblings. He and his wife took them in. “That was truly a fiscal hardship,” says Susan S. Huckabay.
It’s a story that Anthony Guynes, a 36-year-old second-year medical student and father of three — and a recipient of the Durward A. Huckabay, M.D. Endowed Scholarship Fund — can relate to. For Guynes, going to medical school is an all-family commitment, and a costly one. Without the scholarship the Huckabays created a number of years ago, Guynes says, he’d graduate with more than $300,000 in debt. “It really makes a difference to have other people helping us,” he says.
In 2011, the Huckabays made another gift to scholarship: a $1 million challenge gift, established to encourage others to contribute through matching contributions. Over the past few months, a number of people have stepped forward.
Ann Ramsay-Jenkins, chair of UW Medicine’s Scholarship and Student Support Committee and vice chair of the College Success Foundation’s Board of Directors, was among the first to meet the challenge. With her late husband, William (Bill) Jenkins, she has been a longtime supporter of medical student scholarships at the UW School of Medicine.
“Bill and I have always believed in giving a hand up, particularly to bright young people with big dreams,” Jenkins says. She is also interested in freeing students from crushing loan debt. Such debt may steer students away from practicing primary care, especially in rural and underserved areas where doctors are very much needed.
Ruth Fischer-Wright, M.D. ’87, Res. ’90, has similar thoughts about medical practice. “You can make more money in other specialties, but primary care is invaluable to our communities,” she says.
When Fischer-Wright and her husband, Craig L. Wright, M.D. ’88, Res. ’91, made a commitment to the Huckabay challenge, they opted to support third-year students interested in primary care. Their gift is motivated partially by empathy. As medical students, the couple lived from loan check to loan check, and they vividly recall how quickly money dwindled after paying for books and rent. “That was one of the things that attracted us — providing medical students with a little money during their training, rather than living on loans,” says Craig Wright.
Wright and Fischer-Wright look forward to learning more about the students who will benefit from their scholarship — just the sort of contact that Susan Huckabay has enjoyed. Every year, she and her family receive many inspiring letters from students who benefit from the Huckabay Scholarship.
“I have every single letter that I have ever received,” Huckabay says. A thank-you letter from a grateful Anthony Guynes is certainly in the file.
“Having people like the Huckabays who are willing to share the burden with us — and just knowing that there are people invested in my education and my family’s well-being — it’s really a motivation and an encouragement,” says Guynes.
The birds — caught and neatly framed by the camera lens — line the wall outside Nelson Fausto’s office. There’s an eagle, a great blue heron, and baby swallows crowded into a nest, their beaks open for food.
Fausto, an accomplished amateur photographer, has also been the chair of the University of Washington School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology for 17 years. He is one of a handful of people at the top of his field: liver pathology. “It’s hard to know what superlative to use,” says Thomas J. Montine, M.D., UW professor in the Department of Pathology and the department’s interim chair. “He’s a world-class liver researcher.”
Fausto has spent his entire career studying the liver’s ability to regenerate — remarkably, a property it retains even after two-thirds of the liver’s tissue is removed. “Nelson thought, quite correctly, that this unusual property of the liver to regenerate itself — and then stop — would hold important clues to cell cycle regulation and what goes wrong in some forms of cancer,” says Montine.
This important research is an area of deep commitment for Fausto and his wife, Ann L. DeLancey, Ph.D. That’s why they established the Pathology Liver Research Fund earlier this year. “The creation of a fund will allow this kind of work to continue,” Fausto says.
Faculty mentoring is another area of immense importance to Fausto and DeLancey. To move faculty mentorship forward, they have created a recruitment and retention fund to foster the development of junior faculty. “We toss around the word ‘mentor’ a lot now, to the point that it’s almost trivial,” says Montine. But Nelson, he says, is the real thing. A genuine mentor.
Barb Prentiss, the Department of Pathology’s director and administrator, agrees. She has worked with Fausto for 16 years, watching him build the department to prominence, bringing in international scholars, and, most importantly, changing people’s lives — including her own, Montine’s and those of many colleagues. “He has been truly instrumental in supporting me and many others in building our careers,” she says.
Fausto and DeLancey are also changing the lives of Native American and Alaskan Native youth — an interest spurred, in part, by their devotion to collecting Native art. While the art gives them a great deal of pleasure, says Fausto, it also has inspired them to action.
“We thought of the difficult conditions that people endure in living on reservations, in Alaskan villages, and other places,” Fausto says. Wanting to help, he and DeLancey chose to contribute to an endowed scholarship for medical students from federally recognized tribes. They also contributed to a project that brings middle-school children from Washington tribes to visit the Department of Pathology.
“We want to help these young people see that there are broad horizons they can explore if they remain in school,” says Fausto. The kids stay overnight to see the labs, talk to researchers, look under microscopes and learn about diseases. “They get very, very excited,” says Prentiss.
Middle-school students, researchers, administrators, medical students, colleagues — Fausto has a gift for providing help when and where people need it most.
“He’s the kind of leader who lets you spread your own wings and learn to fly,” says Prentiss. “And he’s there supporting you as you do it. ”
“From the beginning, I knew my fellowship was going to be very different from my residency,” says Robert J. Champer, M.D., Ph.D., Fel. ’95. Champer completed his ophthalmology fellowship at UW Medicine; he worked with Robert E. Kalina, M.D., former chair of the Department of Ophthalmology.
“It was an absolutely wonderful experience,” says Champer. “He would be one-on-one with you in the clinic and in the operating room. Technically, he taught me how to be a first-rate clinician and surgeon. But more than that, he taught me how to be a doctor — how to listen to patients, how to comfort them.”
Champer, a retina specialist who practices in Eugene, Ore., is not the only physician impressed by Kalina’s mentorship style. At an alumni event in 2009, Champer and others Kalina trained began talking about “what a role model he was, and how we needed to acknowledge that.” From those conversations, which included Elaine Chuang, M.D., Res. ’83, Samuel G. Farmer, M.D. ’79, Res. ’84, and Debra Graham, M.D., Res. ’96, among others, the idea for an endowed professorship honoring Kalina was born.
The Robert E. Kalina, M.D., Endowed Professorship for Ophthalmology Education is one of the few professorships at UW Medicine specifically designed to promote teaching. Kalina, who still teaches, is grateful for this focus. He believes that, when it comes to funding for the “three-legged stool” of research, education and patient care, the teaching component can get short shrift.
“Simultaneously there have been increased responsibilities placed on people who run training programs,” Kalina says. “There’s competition between earning your own way with patient care and with teaching, which doesn’t generate revenue.” Kalina hopes that the professorship — which will serve as one stable, reliable source of funding — will help rectify that imbalance by supporting a faculty member focused on teaching and training.
Russell N. Van Gelder, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and the Boyd K. Bucey Memorial Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology, concurs. “The stresses on education funding have made this kind of philanthropy essential to continuing our mission,” he says.
Van Gelder observes that the professorship is more than an asset to the department. It is also a wonderful tribute to Kalina, a member of the department for 44 years: 27 as chair, 26 as director of the residency program, and 15 as director of the vitreoretinal fellowship program. “He set outstanding educational standards for our training, particularly our residency training, which persist to this day,” says Van Gelder.
Kalina demurs, saying that “the most important ingredient in teaching is the student.” But it is clear from the outpouring of support for the professorship that Kalina has had an extraordinary impact on his trainees and peers. The many donors who have pledged to fund the professorship include a number of Kalina’s colleagues, 60 former trainees and a generous anonymous donor.
“The No. 1 thing is to acknowledge the effect that this man has had on tens of thousands of patients,” says Champer. “But I’m also hoping that this funding will attract another person like Dr. Kalina, who can take up that mantle and go forward with it.”
Every year, more than 12,000 people in the United States suffer a spinal cord injury (SCI). And in one instant, their lives are forever changed.
Severe SCI can cause temporary or permanent paralysis, and appropriate rehabilitative care is often part of the treatment for injured patients. After that, however, making the transition from hospital-based care to daily life at home, at work and in the community can be a very hard road.
UW Medicine’s SCI Rehabilitation Core Group had ambitious, innovative ideas for a post-rehabilitative care program for people with SCI, says Maria R. (Rina) Reyes, M.D., Res. ’94, UW assistant professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and medical director of the UW Medicine SCI Rehabilitation Program, “but we didn’t have any funding to make it happen.”
Enter several generous supporters. The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation awarded a competitive grant in support of the proposed program. And, after winning a personal injury settlement for Kenneth (Kenny) Salvini — a young man rendered quadriplegic after a terrible accident at a ski resort — attorneys John R. Connelly, Jr., and James W. Beck committed to a matching gift in Salvini’s honor. The gifts were made through their firms, Connelly Law Offices and Gordon Thomas Honeywell, LLP, respectively.
“Kenny is an extraordinary young man, and we wanted to do something on his behalf that would help other people in the same circumstances realize that they could go on and lead a valuable life,” says Connelly.
“He has such an unusually supportive network of family,” Beck adds. “It made a lot of sense for us to do something that would acknowledge all the people out there that don’t have the same support network that Kenny has.”
These gifts allowed the launch of UW Medicine’s Transitions Health Maintenance and Wellness Program (“Transitions”) in February 2011. Transitions gives patients access to post-rehabilitative services during their first two years after injury — a critical time for maintaining and building on the level of activity set during in-hospital rehabilitation. Without post-rehabilitation services, activity typically drops precipitously after a patient is discharged.
“Transitions promotes lifelong wellness, independence and participation by introducing and encouraging healthful practices,” explains Reyes, who directs the program and witnesses firsthand the progress made by its participants.
The individualized program includes an educational series on health and pain-management strategies as well as counseling services. It also provides opportunities for patients to participate in supervised, adapted exercise, join community recreation programs, master adapted driving skills, and use computers to explore work options. These resources are invaluable for patients struggling to create a new “normal” after SCI.
Ray Neilsen, chair of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, says that Transitions’ goals align strongly with the foundation’s mission.
“The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation supports research to find a cure for spinal cord injuries and programs to improve the quality of life for those living with SCI,” says Neilsen. “We’re pleased to partner with the University of Washington in launching its innovative rehabilitation program, Transitions. We believe this program will offer wonderful opportunities for those living with SCI.”
One patient who appreciates these opportunities is Joseph Preti, paralyzed from the chest down after an accident in October 2010. Thanks to Transitions, Preti has learned to drive with hand controls, and he now drives himself from Port Angeles to Seattle twice a week for his sessions. Although his wife still needs to help with the wheelchair restraints, being able to drive gives him a feeling of independence, he says. “It’s a real benefit to me.”
Some people are drawn to innovation. When those people are donors to scientific research, they can advance significant medical breakthroughs that might otherwise take many more years to achieve.
John L. (Larry) and Eileen Tietze are such donors. Through the John H. Tietze Foundation Trust, they have made a series of awards to UW Medicine scientists for breakthrough and early-career research on the leading edge of translational medicine. These awards may ultimately lead to grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“Working with early-career scientists has proved to be the most rewarding investment we have ever made,” Eileen Tietze says. “Our gifts help move science forward.”
While the Tietzes give grants in several research areas, including brain tumors and vision, many current recipients of their awards are conducting stem cell research. Eileen Tietze, who serves as a public member on the UW Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight (ESCRO) Committee, sees stem cell research as the next big frontier in medicine.
“The idea is to get scientists with great ideas to the next step, where they can go to the NIH for funding,” she says. Perkins Coie is another significant donor to early-stage research at UW Medicine; the prestigious law firm supports scientists working on promising therapies.
“Perkins Coie has a longstanding interest in the life sciences. We are proud that our Award for Discovery, now in its fifth year, provides support for cutting-edge research at UW Medicine’s South Lake Union campus,” says Jim Lisbakken, a partner in the firm’s Licensing and Technology Practice and co-chair of the firm’s Life Sciences Practice. “The need to fund early stage translational research is ongoing, and we congratulate and thank Larry and Eileen Tietze for supporting breakthrough research at UW Medicine through the Tietze Foundation.”
The contributions from Perkins Coie and the Tietzes are making a large difference. Michael T. Chin, M.D., Ph.D., FACC, FAHA, UW associate professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology and the Harold T. Dodge/John L. Locke Endowed Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine, is the first recipient of the Tietze Family Award for Research in Stem Cells.
“Gifts like the Tietze Award are invaluable. They allow us to fund innovative but high-risk projects that wouldn’t be funded by the NIH,” Chin says. The funds he received from the Tietzes support the development of a protein-based cell therapy to convert fibroblast stem cells into heart cells in order to repair injured hearts.
In contrast to embryonic stem cells, fibroblast cells are located throughout the body and are easy to obtain. Chin is testing four proteins with the potential to convert fibroblasts into cardiac cells at the site of injury. What would success mean? “It could revolutionize treatment for people who have had heart attacks and ischemic heart disease,” he says.
But even if this particular project doesn’t achieve the hoped-for results, the Tietzes will still be satisfied.
“We have never been disappointed,” Tietze says of their giving. “Science looks for answers, but they’re not always found. Our grants help the search.”