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  DEPARTMENTS
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PORTRAIT OF GIVING:

A Mother's Promise to Make life Better
Departments Advance Research, Education with Private Support


A Mother's Promise to Make life Better

 "" PHOTO -- Philanthropist Mary Lou Sordi with her granddaughter, Bronte, who has a rare form of epilepsy.  ""
  Philanthropist Pat Anderson, front left, and her family.  
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It's difficult enough for a mother to learn that her child must undergo a major surgery. But it is even more difficult when two of her children face major surgeries at the same time.

Sacramento philanthropist Pat Anderson faced that maternal anxiety two years ago when her adult son, Jim, needed a life-saving liver transplant and her other son, John, volunteered to donate part of his liver.

As Mrs. Anderson prepared for the difficult task of seeing both sons through major surgeries, a donated liver became available just two weeks before Jim was scheduled to receive part of his brother's liver.

Jim's story is a common one. United Network for Organ Sharing, a national organization that facilitates organ sharing among transplant centers, reports more than 86,500 candidates in the United States are waiting for an organ. The median waiting time for a liver is up to two years, while some candidates wait up to five years. Some die before a match is found.

Mark Zern, professor and director of the Transplant Research Institute at UC Davis Health System, is tackling the organ shortage by conducting research that could translate into alternatives to transplants for some patients. One of his current projects aims to find ways to use stem cells to treat liver disease by attempting to convert existing human embryonic stem cells into liver cells.

Such an investigation requires enormous funding. Zern's work is possible thanks in part to the generosity of Mrs. Anderson, the widow of the late Fred Anderson, a philanthropist and the founder of Sacramento-based Pacific Coast Building Products Inc. She recently established the Fred and Pat Anderson Endowed Chair in Transplant Research with a gift to UC Davis of $1.5 million.

Mrs. Anderson's decision to support Zern's research efforts was a personal one. "I don't want other families to go through what our family went through," she said. "Research holds the best promise for successfully treating those in need of a transplant."

Jim, who has had a great response to his new liver, is thankful for the care he received at UC Davis and encouraged by the potential outcomes for transplant research. "We hope that UC Davis will find alternatives for transplantation, as well as effective options to treatments such as dialysis," he said.

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Departments Advance Research, Education with Private Support

Private support is a driving force behind UC Davis Health System's ability to fulfill its mission of discovering and sharing knowledge and providing the highest quality of care to the community. Recipients translate the generosity of donors into innovative research, programs and services that advance health care both in the local community and worldwide. Here is how research and education in three UC Davis departments are benefiting from the gifts of donors.

The Frederick George Novy, Jr., Endowment

From the complex ("Protecting Your DNA: The Evolutionary Perspective") to the commonplace ("Itch"), lectures that dermatologists attend are as varied and fascinating as the skin conditions they treat.

To help keep dermatologists at the UC Davis School of Medicine abreast of new developments in the field, Frederick George Novy Jr. established a lectureship in the earliest years of the medical school's existence. Novy was a dermatologist who practiced in Oakland until his death in 1974.

The endowment allows the department to present prominent speakers on a variety of subjects in dermatology. Both university and community clinicians attend the annual breakfast talks, which also provide continuing medical education credits.

Novy's son, Frederick Novy III, is a practicing dermatologist in Morro Bay. He remembers that his father always loved good lectures delivered by visiting scholars and wanted to help provide inspiration to doctors at the fledgling department.

With the booming economy of the 1990s, the original endowment money grew enough to enlarge its scope. The Novy Endowment now includes a professorship, and a national search will be under way shortly to recruit a new dermatologist.

Generous giving by the Novy family to medical education has continued over the years. Helen Forster Novy, widow of the elder Novy, arranged before her death last year to add to the endowment annually over the next 20 years via the San Francisco Foundation.

The Novy Endowment guarantees that department dermatologists will continue to be inspired by new faces and new topics to discuss.

Dr. and Mrs. Edwin Krebs Endowment

The Annual Edwin G. Krebs Honorary Lectureship in Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine celebrates the scientific contribution of Krebs, a Nobel Prize laureate and founding chair of the UC Davis School of Medicine's Department of Biolochemistry and Molecular Medicine.

The first day-long symposium was held last year. Krebs, as well as speakers who were postdoctoral students of his and who have themselves gone on to illustrious careers in biological chemistry, were featured. About 150 people attended the highly successful event. Speakers were selected by Frederic Troy, a professor in the UC Davis School of Medicine Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, and one of the founding faculty members hand-chosen by Krebs more than 35 years ago.

Krebs came to UC Davis in 1968 as the founding chair of the biochemistry department and stayed until 1977. He won the Nobel Prize in 1992, for work partially done at UC Davis. The prize, shared with Edmond H. Fischer, recognized their discoveries concerning reversible protein phosphorylation as a biological regulatory mechanism, which helped unravel the complex pathways by which hormones and drugs regulate cellular functions. His work launched the scientific field of protein kinases, which regulate cell growth, malignant transformation, and learning and memory in the nervous system.

Krebs and Fischer donated much of their Nobel Prize money to educational, medical and arts institutions.

The Palamidessi Leukemia Endowment

 "" PHOTO -- Researchers in the laboratory of Kit Lam, hematology and oncology chief, will use funds from the Palamidessi Endowment to search for cures for certain leukemias and lymphomas.  ""
  Researchers in the laboratory of Kit Lam, hematology and oncology chief, will use funds from the Palamidessi Endowment to search for cures for certain leukemias and lymphomas.  
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Danny Palamidessi was only 27 years old when leukemia struck him down in 1991. Emerging from the devastating loss, his family wanted to give something back to the institution where he received such good care, according to his mother, Lorraine. "After more than three years of treatment, everyone in (the hospital's) infusion room became like family."

The Palamidessis especially wanted to do whatever they could to help others avoid what their family went through. Danny was the father of a young son, and seeing young children undergoing treatment was always hard for him, remembers Lorraine.

Frederick Meyers, professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine and Danny's physician, suggested the family set up a research endowment. The resulting fund has grown steadily over the years, says Meyers. "Family members contribute small amounts regularly to celebrate weddings or to memorialize a loved one."

Now the Palamidessi Leukemia Endowment provides valuable seed money for exploratory grants for innovative research. The research may be riskier in outcome than research funded by more traditional sources but at the same time promises high reward.

Funds will directly benefit new scientists now joining the laboratory of Kit Lam, chief of the division of hematology and oncology, who is dedicated to searching for cures for certain leukemias and lymphomas. They will be making a jump-start on the stem cell initiative, according to Meyers, a science that promises to bring a deeper understanding of the underlying pathology of leukemia and other bloodcell- based cancers.

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  Researchers at the UC Davis Transplant Research Institute are exploring innovative transplant alternatives that will save and improve lives for people with liver and kidney disease. You can be a part of their efforts by making a gift to Transplant  Hope, an endowment campaign created to support this critical work. For more information, please contact Health Sciences Advancement at (916) 734-9400.  
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