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Generous Gift from Former Department Chair Funds Two Endowed Professorships in Anesthesiology

Friday, December 03, 2010

 Drs. Reece, Helrich, Njoku, Fiskum and Rock.

An investiture ceremony on November 30, 2010 recognized Gary Fiskum, PhD, as the Matjasko Professor for Research in Anesthesiology and Mary Njoku, MD, as the Matjasko Professor for Education in Anesthesiology. This ceremony was the first of its kind at the school, awarding two endowed professorships funded by one donor, Jane Matjasko, MD. The former Martin Helrich Professor and Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, led the department from 1986 until 2005.

“An endowed professorship is indicative of superior performance in the classroom, the laboratory and in the clinical setting,” said Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA of the endowed professorship. “In the world of academia, endowed professorships are a coveted and universally recognized accolade, signaling a colleague at the top of his or her field.”

Having had the opportunity to work under Dr. Matjasko, Dr. Fiskum was especially honored to fill a professorship that bears her name. “She was a highly encouraging friend, an inspiring leader, a pioneer in academic medicine and a tireless advocate of all of the faculty, fellows, residents and staff within our department,” he said. “I am proud beyond words to hold the title of the Matjasko Professor for Research in Anesthesiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and I will do my best to always honor this title and position as Jane honored her position as the Helrich Professor and Chair.”

His fellow recipient echoed this sentiment. “For the chance to be the first Matjasko Professor for Education in Anesthesiology and the chance to have been a part of her program, I am most grateful,” said Dr. Njoku, who has been the Anesthesiology Residency Program Director since 1995.

The fact that the Department of Anesthesiology now has a Professor for Research is a true testament to Dr. Matjasko, who realized that innovations in the laboratory could be as important to the field of anesthesiology as clinical innovations and began welcoming PhDs as well as MDs into the department. Thus, Anesthesiology now has research partnerships with the Department of Defense (trying to improve outcomes for soldiers who suffer concussion injuries in war), Sigma Tau (an Italian pharmaceutical firm) and the Indian Head (Maryland) Naval Research Center, among others, and it also works closely with the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center and the School of Medicine’s recently established Shock, Trauma and Anesthesiology Research (STAR) Organized Research Center.

Martin A. Helrich, MD, Dr. Matjasko’s predecessor as chair of Anesthesiology, was among the more than 130 guests in attendance.  The chair’s position today bears his name.

Peter Rock, MD, MBA, the current Martin Helrich Professor and Chair, could not be more appreciative of his predecessor’s generous contribution. As master of ceremonies, he read a letter from Dr. Matjasko, who was not able to attend, explaining the direction of her gift. “Since research and education are more likely to require unfunded departmental money to continue innovative productivity, it is important to support these activities by donating dollars to the department to invest in faculty salaries and programs that otherwise could not occur but which are necessary for department growth,” she wrote. “We are fortunate today to be able to award these professorships to two outstanding faculty members, and we celebrate and thank both Dr. Fiskum and Dr. Njoku for their superb service.”

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University of Maryland School of Medicine
Mary Cain
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University of Maryland School of Medicine Office of Development
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 Dean Reece and Dr. Rock present Dr. Fiskum with a medal and plaque acknowledging his endowed professorship.

 Dean Reece and Dr. Rock present Dr. Njoku with a medal and plaque acknowledging her endowed professorship.

 Dr. Fiskum's wife, daughters and father came out for the ceremony.

 Dr. Njoku celebrated with her mother and sister.

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