Dr. Myles S. Wolf Named Peggy and Harold Katz Family Chair of Nephrology and Hypertension

Myles S. Wolf, M.D., M.M.Sc., the chief of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension in the Department of Medicine, was named the holder of The Peggy and Harold Katz Family Chair at an evening celebration of his many research, educational and clinical achievements, as well as the compassionate and cutting-edge care of the kidney transplant specialists Peggy Katz credits for saving her life from a genetic kidney disorder.

In eloquent and heartfelt remarks during which he discussed the joys of a career in academic medicine, Wolf thanked his wife Rina, his three sons, friends, colleagues, University leadership and, not least of all, the Katz family for their support, guidance and vision in helping him continue on what he called one of the most important of life’s missions – making a difference.

“When all is done and over with and the world goes on without you, what contribution have you made?” said Wolf, who is also Assistant Dean for Translational and Clinical Research, Director of the Clinical Research Center and Co-Director of the Miami Center for Research Participation and Partnership, a component of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. “You want to leave something enduring that makes the world better and that comes back to this gift from the Katz family, a gift of science that advances knowledge and ultimately helps people.”

Speaking for her husband Harold, the chairman of H. Katz Capital Group who founded and once owned Nutrisystem, Inc., and her children, Peggy Katz said they were heartened to know that the work being done by Wolf and others at UM is improving patients’ lives today and will help eradicate kidney disease one day. “My life and that of other family members, friends, and countless others truly depends on this,” said Katz, who first sought treatment at the Miller School for polycystic kidney disease in 2000.

Mauro Moscucci, M.D., professor and Interim Chair of Medicine, began the April 25 ceremony at the Life Science & Technology Park by welcoming Peggy Katz, her daughter Jacquelyn and their and Wolf’s many friends and admirers on behalf of the department, where he also serves as chief of the cardiovascular division.

In his comments, Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., thanked the Katzes for their ardent support of one of the Department of Medicine’s largest divisions, and noted their latest gift would advance Wolf’s work in unraveling the role of mineral metabolism in chronic kidney disease.

“Your own strength and courage in fighting kidney disease is just remarkable,” the Dean told Peggy Katz, who underwent a kidney transplant at UM/Jackson in 2003. “Your family’s conviction and generosity create a transformational legacy.”

Calling Wolf “a star of our medical center,” the Dean said Wolf has distinguished himself as a clinician, educator and researcher, most notably with his groundbreaking work that demonstrated that elevated levels of fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23), the hormone that prompts the kidney to excrete phosphate, are a powerful mechanism for cardiovascular disease and mortality in kidney disease patients.

“This is a leading cause of death in patients with chronic kidney disease, but its causes have been poorly understood historically,” the Dean said. “This discovery will benefit countless patients in generations to come.”

The Dean also recognized the now retired William Way Anderson, M.D., the co-founder and longtime medical director of the South Florida Artificial Kidney Center who referred many patients to UM/Jackson for transplantation, and his wife Betty. He noted that the chair the Andersons previously endowed is held by David Roth, M.D., professor of medicine, director of clinical services and medical director of kidney transplantation. One of the first nephrologists in the nation to manage the care of transplant patients, Roth has been Peggy Katz’s doctor for 14 years.

“The donors and chair holders with us this evening exemplify what it takes to build one of the world’s greatest medical research enterprises,” the Dean said.

UM President Donna E. Shalala echoed the Dean’s sentiments, saying donors who support the centuries-old tradition of endowing chairs benefit researchers who are able to enhance and accelerate the quest for cures for deadly diseases, as well as generations of students who are able to learn from world-class professors.

“And most important,” President Shalala said, “our patients benefit the most by receiving the most advanced care.”

Speaking as a patient, Peggy Katz expressed her and her family’s deep gratitude for Roth, her transplant surgeon, George W. Burke, III, M.D., professor of surgery and Director of the Division of Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation, and for Wolf, whose appointment as chief of the division delighted the Katz family.

“On behalf of my family, thank you. The Miller School of Medicine has been central to my life,” she said. “I can’t express enough gratitude to David, my doctor for the past 14 years. Without him, Dr. George Burke and the fine team of nephrologists and surgeons I probably wouldn’t be here today, so once again, thank you.

“Harold and I have been incredibly fortunate to be able to provide support to advance treatment, research and physician education related to kidney disease, and tonight marks the capstone of our partnership with UM, by honoring another great doctor, Dr. Myles Wolf.”

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