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5.03.2018

Grateful Patient and Philanthropist Endows Chair in Medicine and Endocrinology for Dr. Roy E. Weiss

In recognition of his work searching for new treatments and cures for thyroid and pituitary gland disorders, renowned endocrinologist Roy E. Weiss, M.D., Ph.D., was recently presented with the Rabbi Morris I. Esformes Endowed Chair in Medicine and Endocrinology.

The ceremony was held April 24 in the Schoninger Research Quadrangle on the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine campus in front of more than 200 family members, friends, colleagues, and medical school leadership.

“There is no greater feeling than the satisfaction of helping patients,” said Weiss, the Kathleen and Stanley Glaser Distinguished Chair in Medicine and chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Miller School. “I want to discover new therapies to help people who couldn’t otherwise be helped. In addition, we have an obligation to ensure that future generations will have their share of outstanding teachers and researchers. The Rabbi Morris I. Esformes Endowed Chair in Medicine and Endocrinology allows us to do that.”

The chair ceremony was the result of the generosity of philanthropist and entrepreneur Rabbi Morris I. Esformes, and a more than 30-year bond between him and Weiss.

Esformes, a Chicago native, has supported Weiss’s medical research in the past.

Before joining the Miller School of Medicine in 2014, Weiss spent 29 years at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, where he served as the Rabbi Morris I. Esformes Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics.

“It’s very difficult in one’s lifetime to partner up with someone whose passion, emotion, and love for his fellow human beings is comparable to that of Roy Weiss,” said Esformes. “It’s no mystery why he and I ultimately met. This was God’s destiny for both of us. What we’ve collectively been able to achieve in helping others is not comparable.”

In addition to the endowed chair, the donation from Rabbi Esformes also funds the Thyroid Dysfunction Research Fund in the Division of Endocrinology. Both will help Weiss further his work as one of the leading experts of genetic thyroid and pituitary disease.
Board certified in endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism, Weiss’ research focuses on the mechanisms of thyroid hormone action at the molecular, physiological, and psychological levels.

Donna Shalala, former UM president, and Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., dean emeritus of the Miller School, both played a significant role in bringing Weiss to the Miller School.
“Dr. Weiss’s vision of what medicine ought to be has permeated across this University,” said Shalala, Trustee Professor of Political Science and Health Policy. “I am so grateful that he agreed to join us here, and more importantly, to have his impact not just on our community, but on the world.”

In addition to his research, Weiss has had a significant impact as chair of the Department of Medicine, which is the University’s largest department. During his four-year tenure, he has named five new permanent division chiefs and appointed vice chairs in clinical affairs, diversity, research, and education.

Under his leadership, more than 100 faculty have been recruited, the Internal Medicine Residency and Fellowship Education programs have flourished, and the clerkship training for medical students has been revamped.

Weiss also established a multidisciplinary Comprehensive Diabetes Center for patients with diabetes and obesity and was also recently co-awarded an $11.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study precision medicine and health disparities in underserved populations in collaboration with Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Meharry Medical College.

Additionally, he established an annual research day at the Miller School, which celebrates research and creative endeavors of undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, fellows, and faculty.

Edward Abraham, M.D., said Weiss is well-deserving of this academic honor.

“Endowed chairs help celebrate researchers who have turned their life’s work into transformative achievements in medicine, and I can think of no better recipient than Dr. Roy Weiss,” said Abraham, executive vice president for health affairs, CEO of UHealth, and dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School of Medicine. “Endowed chairs support work in perpetuity, providing researchers the resources they need to pursue new discoveries. They allow us to recruit the best and brightest faculty. Having these faculty helps us to advance the understanding of diseases and to develop novel cures.”

Rabbi Esformes, who was joined at the ceremony by his wife, Delecia, and daughter and son-law, Rachel and Samuel Chavin, as well as several other relatives and many friends from the Chicago-area orthodox Jewish community, received a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences from Roosevelt University in 1970.

That same year, after graduating from Hebrew Theological College at the age of 23, he was ordained by Rabbi Aharon Soloveitchik.

Howard Srebnick, a University of Miami alumnus who introduced Esformes, said that among the many reasons to admire his friend — his roles as a rabbi, successful businessman and world-class philanthropist — there stands another defining characteristic.

“Morris Esformes is a cancer survivor and a fighter,” said Srebnick, a partner at the firm of Black, Srebnick, Kornspan, and Stump, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami School of Law. “When he was afflicted, he fought, and he conquered. During that battle, he developed relationships with doctors that would endure for generations to come. He did not forget the people who helped him overcome cancer.”

In addition to his many business interests, Rabbi Esformes is also an active philanthropist who supports organizations in several U.S. cities and in Israel.

Weiss, who was joined at the ceremony by his wife, Fay, and many other family members, said Esformes’ generosity toward others is unmatched.

“There isn’t anyone Morris will not help,” Weiss said. “His philanthropy ranges from Florida to Alaska, where he has built schools and libraries, and from Chicago to Jerusalem, where he has built more schools and hospitals. He is selfless.”

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