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A gift of gratitude

It’s funny how good things sometimes come out of the most traumatic events.

When Atlanta commercial real estate legend Charles McKenzie “Mack” Taylor (left) was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1996, both he and his family were devastated. But thanks to Emory neurologist Allan Levey, Taylor’s illness brought the family closer than ever, says Taylor’s wife, Mary.

“When Mack was diagnosed, Dr. Levey immediately insisted that he meet with the entire family—including Mack—to talk about the disease and answer our questions,” she says. “That meeting was extremely difficult for all of us, especially Mack. But we survived it, and because none of us could deny the reality that lay ahead, we determined to face it together. We are grateful to Dr. Levey for his commonsense approach.”

Making the decision to keep her husband at home wasn’t difficult. Finding a responsible team of around-the-clock caregivers was. After working with an agency, Mrs. Taylor decided to manage the nurses herself to insure the best quality care for her husband.

For the past five years, Dr. Levey has guided the Taylors through the management of this disease, always involving the family in Mack’s treatment.

Mrs. Taylor and her husband’s two children, Andrew Taylor and Camille Taylor McDuffie, recently donated $500,000 to establish the Charles McKenzie Taylor Fund for Alzheimer’s Care and Discovery. The money will help fund Levey’s clinical and basic research, which focuses on the genetics and molecular neurobiology of Alzheimer’s. The gift will also contribute to the clinical program of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center, which offers early diagnosis and ongoing care from a multidisciplinary team of neurologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and nurse practitioners.

Mrs. Taylor says Dr. Levey is a rare find.

“We’ll be forever indebted to him for his extraordinary sense of humanity and great bedside manner. My husband adores him. They have a very special bond. After those first few very traumatic meetings, it evolved into a very comfortable and trusting relationship. Emory and all of Atlanta is extremely fortunate to have someone who is not only a leading light in the research community but also a remarkable clinician with extraordinary sensitivity to both the patient and family.” (BACK TO TOP)

In tribute, from the heart

Emory’s much-loved cardiologist and poet John Stone has served the medical school for decades, and now a way has been found to keep him here always. Fund-raising is now under way to establish a professorship in his name, and $750,000 is the goal. This will honor Stone’s special contributions to medical education and continue his legacy of keeping humanity front and center in medical practice.

Raising the roof to fight prostate cancer

Atlanta real estate developer Kenna Daws has never been someone to back away from a challenge. After her husband was treated for prostate cancer at Emory, she decided to do what she does best to prevent the disease in other men. She built a house. Her company, River Ridge Development, is donating all profits from the sale of a 4,500-square-foot house in north Fulton County, complete with furnishings, to the Emory Department of Urology. She hopes her efforts will raise awareness about prostate cancer treatment and prevention. (BACK TO TOP)

Powerhouse fund for lung transplantation

Emory’s lung transplantation program was put on the fast track recently with the establishment of the Andrew J. McKelvey Lung Transplantation Center. The center is funded by a $20 million gift from Andrew McKelvey (top row, far right)—the founder and CEO of TMP Worldwide, which includes the Internet career portal, Online Career Center, and the world’s largest yellow pages advertising agency.

The gift also creates the Augustus J. McKelvey Chair in Lung Transplan-tation Medicine, named in honor of his late father, a general medicine practitioner. E. Clinton Lawrence, Emory professor of medicine and medical director of lung transplantation, has been nominated for the chair and will direct the center.

In addition to the center and chair, the gift allows for recruitment of the McKelvey Young Investigators—at least five new faculty in the basic and clinical sciences related to lung disease. The gift will also bring a distinguished leader in transplantation or pulmonary medicine to campus each year as the McKelvey Visiting Professor.

Emory’s lung transplant program, the only one in Georgia, has been in existence since 1993 and has survival rates comparable to the national one- and three-year rates of 72% and 61%, respectively.

“This gift provides the means for our program to fulfill its twin missions of improving outcomes in lung transplant while offering novel medical therapies for complex lung disorders,” says Lawrence.
He will collaborate with other Emory researchers in the Emory Transplant Center, who are internationally renowned for their work on inducing immune tolerance for transplanted organs. (BACK TO TOP)

Grants for needy transplant recipients

Two new grants from the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Trust are helping ensure access to care for patients in Georgia who need transplants. Wachovia Bank, trustee of the Mason Trust, awarded the Emory Transplant Center a two-year grant of $1 million to support its Access to Transplant Care Project and $118,000 to support bridge funding for the Emory Eye Center’s Pediatric Cornea Transplant Program, the only such program in the state.

The Mason Trust initiated the Access to Transplant Care Project two years ago to help financially disadvantaged Georgians and others referred to Emory for transplant. The new gift enhances access to care throughout the transplant process, before, during, and after the transplant, and also focuses on increasing the number of
living-donor transplants.

Transplantation requires a lifetime commitment on the part of the patient, which “creates a major responsibility for medical institutions to make sure that patients are well prepared and informed, from both a medical and a financial perspective, as they enter into this commitment,” says Chris Larsen (left), Mason Professor of Surgery and director of the transplant center. The program allows Emory to provide enhanced patient orientation and consultations with physicians, nurse coordinators, social workers, and nutritionists to help patients understand what to expect and what is expected of them. Three new areas of support designed to improve patient outcomes include enhanced financial education, designated living-donor coordinators, and outreach coordinators.

The bridge funding grant allows the Emory Eye Center to continue supporting the care of children needing cornea transplants. Among the most difficult cases to manage in children, cornea transplants require extensive follow-up care, which insurance rarely pays for.
The Mason Trust helped create the Mason Chair in Transplantation Biology at Emory and supported establishment of the Emory Transplant Center in 1998. (BACK TO TOP)

Making an impact in adolescent health

Jane Fonda believes more should be done to make sure adolescents grow up happy, healthy, and strong in body, mind, and spirit. That’s why she recently donated $2 million to establish the Jane Fonda Center at Emory, located on the Emory Briarcliff campus.

“My goal for the center is to provide the very best training in the Southeast for professionals in early child development, adolescent reproductive health, and patient advocacy—most especially in the areas of violence and abuse,” says Fonda. “We want to reach child care workers, case managers in child protective services, teachers of sexuality education, and people who need and want training in parenting skills.”

Fonda’s gift also endowed the Marion Howard Chair in Adolescent Reproductive Health in Gynecology and Obstetrics. Marion Howard, who holds the chair named in her honor, is a renowned faculty member who is known nationally for her innovative sexuality education programs. One such program, using teen peers for abstinence education, has been in place in Atlanta public schools for 15 years and has been copied around the country.

The team of Howard and Fonda has broken new ground before—on state initiatives in adolescent reproductive health and teen pregnancy prevention such as the Grady Health System’s Teen Services Clinic. Fonda recently donated $1.3 million to kick off a campaign to finance renovation of the Teen Services Clinic into a more teen-friendly space in a new location, with expanded hours and services.

The Jane Fonda Center will have a synergistic relationship with the Grady program, exchanging knowledge and experiences. Researchers at the center will also study and evaluate programs around the country that are similar to Grady’s.

Preventing teen pregnancy has been important to Fonda for many years. In 1995, she helped establish the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, which aims to lower Georgia’s adolescent birth rate, which is among the top 10 nationwide.

Understanding suicidal tendencies

Suicidal behavior has always been difficult to understand, but its roots in the biology of the brain are starting to become clear.
With the support of a $75,000 Abbott Laboratories Junior Faculty Award, David Purselle, professor of psychiatry, is studying the biology of suicide. Abbott Laboratories, a pharmaceutical, diagnostics, nutritional, and hospital products company, regularly issues junior faculty awards to encourage the development of promising young scientists.

Purselle studies suicide in patients with bipolar disorder, unipolar depression, and schizophrenia. He uses SPECT and PET scanning in clinical studies of serotonin transporter density among depressed, suicidal patients. In future studies, he plans to explore correlations between serotonin transporter density and the degree of suicidal behavior. (BACK TO TOP)

Help the next generation follow their dreams

W. Jefferson Pendergrast Jr., 72M
, considers himself lucky. When he was a young man, trying to decide which direction to take in the world, money was not an issue. Medicine was his calling, and that’s all that mattered.

Things are different now. The cost of educating young doctors-to-be has skyrocketed as medicine has become more high-tech and the government less supportive of financing medical education. Indeed, more than 50 graduates this past spring accumulated more than $100,000 in debt related to their medical education.

The staggering cost of medical education may dissuade many potential physicians from entering medical school, and for many who do, the debt load factors heavily into their choice of specialty.

School of Medicine Dean Thomas Lawley has made increasing scholarship assistance a priority.

“This kind of debt burden means that these students, as soon as they are able, have to go out and make money,” Lawley says. “They can’t go into academic medicine, they can’t do research, and they can’t go into an indigent care situation. That is simply wrong.”

Pendergrast wants to help. He is leading the way for the Class of 1972, donating a leadership contribution for a class scholarship fund. The contribution was made in memory of John Bostwick, a much loved faculty member who died last year. He hopes the fund will help medical students follow their dreams.

“Medicine is such a demanding field that it must be a true calling—a passion—for those who enter it,” he says. “To succeed, a person must be focused and tenacious, and no matter what, they cannot let go of their dream.”

Scholarships are essential to continue to attract the best, brightest, and most driven students into medicine. “Health is so important to the welfare of society, and we want to feel confident that the best and most qualified people are entering the field as a calling,” says Pendergrast. “The next generation of physicians is crucial for us, our children, and our children’s children.”

For Pendergrast, helping others to achieve their dreams is a legacy. He comes from a long line of Georgians who have valued education and encouraged others to pursue it. He urges other members of the Class of 1972 to contribute to the class scholarship fund and other classes to begin their own scholarship funds. (BACK TO TOP)

The lasting legacy of the Whitehead family

First marketed in Atlanta in 1886, the syrup for Coca-Cola was already being produced in plants from Los Angeles to Philadelphia by 1899. But the drink itself was available only at soda fountains. That year, Joseph Brown Whitehead and a partner persuaded Coca-Cola president Asa Candler to sell them the rights to bottle Coke virtually anywhere in the country. By the time of his death in 1906, Whitehead had helped lay the groundwork for what would become the most dynamic franchising system in American business history. Coca-Cola in bottles, within “an arm’s reach of desire,” would go on to become a national icon.

Whitehead died too young, at age 41, to reap many of the benefits of what he had built, but the wealth he amassed has benefited countless others, through foundations established by his widow, Lettie Pate Whitehead, and their two sons, Joseph Jr and Conkey Pate Whitehead. Gifts from the Whitehead family foundations rank among the largest in American higher education and have helped transform Emory in countless ways over the past seven decades.

In April 2002, Emory dedicated the foundations’ most recent gift, the $81.3 million Whitehead Biomedical Research Building. In tribute to the family, glass etchings of the four family members are on permanent display in the building lobby, along with plaques listing their various gifts to Emory.

Among these are the Whitehead Surgical Pavilion in Emory Hospital, which was completed in 1946 and comprises the entire front right wing of the hospital. The Joseph B. Whitehead Chair of Surgery, which has had four incumbents since it was created in 1939, has helped the Department of Surgery handpick from among the best leaders in surgery in the world. (BACK TO TOP)


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