The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
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Dr. Mark Drazner (left), associate professor of internal medicine, medical director of the Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation Program and holder of the James M. Wooten Chair in Cardiology, and Dr. Dan Meyer, associate professor of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery and holder of the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Distinguished Chair in Thoracic Surgery.

The 1980s ushered in the modern era of cardiology, bringing with it many important milestones, including the development of the first implantable defibrillator and the first artificial heart. In 1985, a discovery that would ultimately change the way heart disease is treated around the world was publically recognized when two UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists – Drs. Michael Brown and Joseph Goldstein – won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discovery of the underlying mechanisms of cholesterol metabolism.

Their research, which would eventually impact millions, paved the way to the development of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. These medications today are the most widely prescribed in the U.S.

The decade also brought the creation of a major philanthropic force in cardiology research – The Sammons Dallas Foundation. A staunch advocate of education, medical research, and patient care, the Foundation has become one of Texas’s most loyal and committed philanthropic entities.

This year, the Sammons Dallas Foundation donated $20 million to support heart, lung and vascular programs at UT Southwestern through The University of Texas Investment Management Company.

The endowment will support the Elaine D. and Charles A. Sammons Heart, Lung, and Vascular Comprehensive Center at UT Southwestern, a facility which will include inpatient and outpatient services, as well as clinical and translational research programs.

“This is a tremendous gift, and we are extremely grateful to the men and women of Sammons Enterprises and the directors of the Sammons Dallas Foundation for their trust and generosity,” UT Southwestern President Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky said of the Foundation’s latest donation. “Our medical center is widely recognized as having one of the nation’s leading heart, lung, and vascular research and treatment centers, and we rely on support like this to maintain our momentum. We feel most fortunate to be included in the legacy of Elaine and Charles Sammons and are thrilled about the opportunities this significant contribution will mean for UT Southwestern.”

In 2009 the Foundation had donated $100,000 to foster similar programs at UT Southwestern. The gift was given through St. Paul Medical Foundation, which, since 1983, has received more than $1.57 million from the philanthropic arm established by the late Charles A. and Elaine Sammons.

As the medical center readies its new University Hospital, scheduled to open in 2015, funds from the latest Foundation gift will allow UT Southwestern to take its multidisciplinary treatment approach to even greater heights.

Dr. John Warner

Plans for the new hospital facility include an entire floor comprised of interventional suites and operating rooms, which will allow all the heart, lung, and vascular procedural specialists to work together in a unique collaborative environment focused on application of the latest technologies and research, explained Dr. John Warner, associate professor of internal medicine – cardiology and medical director of the Doris and Harry W. Bass Jr. Clinical Center for Heart, Lung, and Vascular Disease at UT Southwestern.

“The generous gift from the Sammons Dallas Foundation will allow us to continue constructing the type of collaborative, multidisciplinary center, which facilitates our efforts to recruit and retain the very best clinicians and clinical investigators and translate our research breakthroughs into improved patient outcomes,” said Dr. Warner, who holds the Audre and Bernard Rapoport Chair in Cardiovascular Research and the Jim and Norma Smith Chair for Interventional Cardiology.

Sammons Enterprises Inc. and the Foundation both were established by Mr. Sammons, who in 1938 founded Reserve Life Insurance Co. in downtown Dallas. Mr. Sammons believed that the value of a company was determined by more than the bottom-line numbers. With 3,800 employees internationally and assets approaching $45 billion, Sammons Enterprises ranks among the largest privately owned companies in the world. The diversified holding corporation owns and operates businesses across a variety of industries. It also manages a large investment portfolio.

When Mr. Sammons died in 1988, he entrusted his businesses to his wife – who served as chairman of the board until her death in January 2009 – to see that the employees and management remained true to his ideas about making a difference in the community.

The heart, lung, and vascular programs at UT Southwestern provide seamless, individualized care for adult congenital heart disease, cardiac rehabilitation, cardiac imaging, cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, electrophysiology, general cardiology, heart failure, heart and lung transplant, interventional cardiology, interventional radiology, lung transplant pulmonology, mechanical circulatory assistance, preventive cardiology, pulmonary hypertension, vascular and endovascular surgery, and other disorders.