Bascom Palmer’s Dr. Steven J. Gedde Receives Dr. John G. Clarkson Chair

At a ceremony before his family, colleagues, Miller School of Medicine and University leadership, Steven J. Gedde, M.D., professor of ophthalmology, was formally presented with the Dr. John G. Clarkson Endowed Chair in Medical Education at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute to support medical education.

Gedde is the inaugural holder of the chair, which was created through the philanthropic leadership of the Braman Family Foundation and a generous gift from the estate of Amy and Shlomo Yeminy.

Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School of Medicine, said an endowed chair is one of the highest honors given at leading universities.

“Endowed chairs are vital to ensuring sustainable academic excellence,” said Goldschmidt, who is also CEO of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System. “As we have seen through his years of dedication, Dr. Gedde’s goals are to provide excellent patient care, to educate and inspire the next generation of ophthalmologists, and to perform cutting-edge research.”

The chair was presented April 29 in the Jose Berrocal Auditorium at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

Bascom Palmer’s chairman, Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., called the Braman Family Foundation and Yeminy gifts “extraordinary.” He added that Bascom Palmer’s worldwide leadership in medical education – as well as patient care and vision research – would not be possible without philanthropic support.

“The Braman Family Foundation and the Yeminys’ investment in Bascom Palmer will provide a lasting legacy of learning and sight for generations to come,” he said.

The Dr. John G. Clarkson Endowed Chair in Medical Education recognizes the many accomplishments of John Clarkson, M.D., Dean Emeritus of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. A distinguished vitreo-retinal specialist, researcher and educator, Clarkson served as chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute from 1991-1996. For the following 11 years, Clarkson was Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School.

Clarkson said he was deeply honored to learn the Braman Family Foundation had provided the lead gift to name a chair in his honor.

“I became friends with Norman Braman through Jay Weiss, who at the time was chair of the Medical Affairs Committee of the University of Miami Board of Trustees,” he said. “Following Jay’s death, Mr. Braman dedicated himself to working with the Miller School of Medicine and did so with selfless abandon. His commitment to the South Florida community and to our medical school during my time as dean was unsurpassed.”

During his tenure as dean, Clarkson recruited significant research and academic talent to the University and presided over dramatic annual growth in its scientific research. He established Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the Palm Beaches – the Institute’s first off-campus center — and led the physical transformation of the medical campus, creating the Schoninger Research Quadrangle through the completion of the Batchelor Children’s Research Institute and the Lois Pope LIFE Center for neuroscience research.

He also led the medical school’s largest capital campaign at the time, culminating in the historic $100 million gift from the family of the late Miami developer Leonard M. Miller. The medical school was renamed in Miller’s honor.

Clarkson received the 2012 National Physician of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award conferred by the publishers of America’s Top Doctors. He is currently the executive director of the American Board of Ophthalmology, the independent, nonprofit organization responsible for certifying ophthalmologists in the United States.

University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala called Clarkson the epitome of a great leader, who brings thoughtfulness and integrity to all areas.

“Of all the people I have worked with in my long years of higher education, I can’t think of anyone who epitomizes integrity more than John Clarkson,” said Shalala. “He doesn’t get enough credit for his leadership of this extraordinary school. There are few and far between in this business like John Clarkson.”

Donors Irma and Norman Braman are among the nation’s leading art collectors and philanthropists, who have inspired countless physicians, scientists, educators and community activists. They are credited with bringing Art Basel to Miami Beach, and have recently committed to design and construct South Florida’s newest major museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, in the Miami Design District.

The Bramans are also longtime benefactors of the University of Miami, supporting medical research and clinical services. In 2002, the Braman Family Foundation established the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and recently the Foundation partnered with the Miller family to renovate the Hillel center at the University of Miami, which will be renamed the Braman Miller Center for Jewish Student Life.

In addition to supporting the health care initiatives at the University of Miami, the Bramans have endowed a chair for research in gastrointestinal motility disorders at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Linda Fenner 3D Mobile Mammography Center at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, which will bring breast cancer screening to Miami-Dade’s underserved communities. The mobile center is named in memory of Irma Braman’s youngest sister, Linda Fenner, who died from breast cancer in 2005 at the age of 54.

“Irma and I are dedicated to training tomorrow’s medical researchers as they seek new approaches and strategies for combating disease,” said Norman Braman. “Bascom Palmer has long embodied excellence, and we are privileged to honor John Clarkson for his remarkable contributions to ophthalmology.”

Amy and Shlomo Yeminy were patients of Dr. Clarkson’s and made a gift through their estate to Bascom Palmer. Judith Post, M.D., professor of radiology, neurological surgery and ophthalmology, Director of Neuroradiology Fellowship, and the Yeminys’ longtime friend, attended the ceremony in their honor.

As dozens of medical students, residents, and fellows looked on during the ceremony, Alfonso called Gedde the “ultimate educator.”

“He strives for the selfless pursuit of knowledge that he gives back to improve the welfare of every human being,” said Alfonso.

Gedde is nationally and internationally recognized as a leader in the field of glaucoma.

He currently serves as president of the Florida Glaucoma Society, is past president of the Program Directors Council and an active member of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology.

Gedde was a recipient of an Achievement Award and Senior Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology. He was selected as the Excellence in Health Care Educator of the Year, and has received multiple resident teaching awards.
Gedde called Clarkson an inspiring role model for hundreds of ophthalmologists who have trained at Bascom Palmer, and thousands more who rely on his leadership, expertise and ethics. He accepted the chair before his wife Yunhee Lee, M.D., voluntary assistant professor and corneal and external disease specialist, and their son, Andrew.

“It is a great, great honor for me to be the inaugural chair of the John G. Clarkson Chair in Medical Education,” said Gedde, who is also vice chairman of education and director of the residency training program at Bascom Palmer. “Not only because Dr. Clarkson is one of my heroes in ophthalmology, but he is the one who hired me, gave me the chance to join this faculty, and has been my mentor for more than 20 years. This has been the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Noting that Bascom Palmer’s residency and fellowship programs have been continually ranked the best in the nation, Gedde said, “I believe there is tremendous potential to positively impact patient care through education. Graduating residents and fellows can elevate the quality of patient care that is delivered in their local communities. As they educate other physicians, they participate in the global dissemination of scientific and clinical knowledge.”

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