About 40 people recently gathered at the Anschutz Health Sciences Building to celebrate the newly named Katy O. and Paul M. Rady Esophageal and Gastric Center of Excellence and honor Sachin Wani, MD, as the inaugural center director and recipient of the Katy O. and Paul M. Rady Esophageal and Gastric Center Chair.
Hosted by Richard Schulick, MD, MBA, Aragón/Gonzalez-Guístí Endowed Chair in Surgery and director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, the event was a pivotal moment for CU Anschutz and the CU Cancer Center.
As CU Anschutz Vice Chancellor Scott Arthur noted in his opening remarks, the establishment of the Rady Center of Excellence is “the latest jewel in our innovation ecosystem at CU Anschutz; it will put Colorado on the map as a leader in preventing and treating esophagus and gastric cancers and help save many lives.”
The transformational $20 million commitment from the Radys will allow the campus to improve the future of esophageal cancer care and treatments for decades to come. The Radys have been supporters of CU Anschutz since 2015 when Katy lost her brother, Paul R. O’Hara II, to esophageal cancer. She established an endowed chair at the CU Cancer Center as a lasting tribute to his memory; the family has continued their philanthropic partnership by giving generously to the university at large and its hospital partners ever since.
“It’s inspiring to see the power of philanthropy and recognize members of our benefactor community who care so much about creating impact in Colorado,” said Todd Saliman, president of the CU system. “Philanthropic leaders like Katy and Paul make our work possible.”
Schulick echoed the excitement of President Saliman and noted the immense talent and infrastructure at the CU Cancer Center. “When we recruit great people, we create great standards of care,” he said. “The best way to move the needle is through philanthropic investments in endowed chairs to recruit superstars to the CU Cancer Center.”
One such superstar is Madeleine Kane, MD, PhD, who became the Paul R. O’Hara II Endowed Chair in Esophageal Cancer. Kane developed a close relationship with the Rady family when they came to the CU Cancer Center seeking treatment for Katy’s brother. She spoke about the opportunity to get to know Paul and his family throughout his cancer treatment.
Bold ideas for prevention, diagnosis and treatment
“Caring for a patient throughout cancer treatment, when there is no known cure, is a foundation for a sacred relationship,” she said. “Through the Radys’ gift to establish the Paul O’Hara symposium, I saw their commitment to funding innovative research. I was also fortunate to develop a relationship with Dr. Sachin Wani; I was amazed by his research and knew that a stronger partnership between our groups would be a catalyst for our leadership in esophageal cancers.”
Wani’s bold ideas for esophageal and gastric cancers prevention, diagnosis and treatment are a fitting testament to his position as the new chair holder of the Rady Endowed Chair. He acknowledged his gratitude to the Radys for their transformational gift and for their confidence in his chair holder position.
“Having my name associated with your family and your commitment to curing esophageal and gastric cancers is an incredible gift,” he said. “This endowed chair will ensure dedicated time to push forward research efforts that will directly impact patients today and in the future.”
At the close of the event, attendees were shown a preview of the new commemorative logo for the Katy O. and Paul M. Rady Esophageal and Gastric Center of Excellence. Wani was honored with a medallion to symbolize the impact of holding an endowed chair. Katy and Paul Rady were also given medallions as a sign of appreciation for their philanthropic leadership and meaningful partnership with the CU Cancer Center.
“Being a center of excellence for esophageal cancer is no small feat – and we are up for the challenge,” said Wani. “We are at the tip of the iceberg of what is possible.”
Guest contributor: Danielle Davis, Office of Advancement
Photo at top: Pictured from left, Madeleine Kane, MD, PhD; Richard Schulick, MD, MBA; Paul M. Rady; Katy O. Rady; and Sachin Wani, MD.