Physicians Honored with George E. Batchelor Endowed Chairs in Pediatrics

In hopes of finding life-saving treatments and cures for pediatric illnesses, the Batchelor Foundation recently reaffirmed its commitment to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics.

Foundation representatives presented endowed chairs to renowned faculty members Melvin Almodóvar, M.D., Miguel Saps, M.D., and Judy Schaechter, M.D., M.B.A., during a May 17 ceremony at the Schoninger Research Quadrangle.

“A ceremony like the one we are celebrating tonight is special and somewhat unusual because we have the privilege of honoring not one, but three chair recipients,” said Edward Abraham, M.D., executive vice president for health affairs, CEO of UHealth, and dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School of Medicine. “It is a fantastic tribute to our faculty members because they have spent much of their professional lives pursuing new discoveries to cure pediatric diseases. We are so appreciative of the Foundation’s incredible support.”

The Batchelor Foundation is one of the University’s largest overall donors and was represented at the ceremony by co-CEOs Sandy Batchelor and Daniel Ferraresi, trustee Jon Batchelor, who is also a UM trustee, and his wife, Nancy, as well as Father Patrick O’Neil, a longtime family friend and advisor.

UM President Julio Frenk, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., thanked the trustees for holding true to the Foundation’s vision of improving children’s health.

“We are so pleased to celebrate yet another example of the Foundation’s philanthropy,” Frenk said. “The George E. Batchelor Endowed Chairs in Pediatrics provide a critical step toward finding new treatments and cures for diseases that impact children.”

The physicians honored are pursuing medical breakthroughs in cardiology, gastroenterology and children’s health.

Melvin Almodóvar, M.D., is the recipient of the George E. Batchelor Endowed Chair in Pediatric Cardiology.

A renowned pediatric cardiologist, Almodóvar is chief of pediatric cardiology at the Miller School, and director of the Children’s Heart Center at Jackson Health System’s Holtz Children’s Hospital. His research has been in the development of predictive models using bedside clinical informatics, for which he received funding from the National Institutes of Health, and in teaching methodology. Almodóvar completed his medical degree at Stanford University, and his pediatric residency and cardiology fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Accompanied by his wife, Heidi, and daughters, Merrick, and Lauren, (son, Christian, was unable to attend), Almodóvar called the chair a “humbling, yet exciting experience.”

He said, “I personally am fulfilling a dream to continue to be in a position to positively impact the lives of children, and their families, as well as adults who are living with congenital heart disease.”

Miguel Saps, M.D., who was joined by his wife, Gilda Schaffer, mother, Felicia Kranzenblum, and father, Elias Saps, is the recipient of the George E. Batchelor Endowed Chair in Pediatrics.
A world-renowned expert in neurogastroenterology and gastrointestinal motility, Saps is chief of gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition at the Miller School. He has presented at more than 120 scientific lectures worldwide and has published nearly 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles. He also has been the primary investigator of the largest multicenter clinical trial in neurogastroenterology in the United States.

Saps received his medical degree from the Universidad de La República Faculty of Medicine in Montevideo, Uruguay, and completed residencies in pediatric gastroenterology and hepatology in Spain, and at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, and a fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

He thanked the members of the Batchelor Foundation and his family for always inspiring him to pursue his passion. He also acknowledged his patients.

“To the families of the children, who trust us with the care of their most precious children, that trust is the strength that empowers us to work every day to help them,” Saps said.

Judy Schaechter, M.D., M.B.A., is the recipient of the George E. Batchelor Endowed Chair in Child Health and is professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Miller School, and chief of service at Holtz Children’s Hospital, Jackson Health System.

As chair, Schaechter leads a noted faculty and staff comprised of specialists across all pediatric disciplines, who also train nearly 130 pediatric residents and fellows, as well as child health and mental health professionals.

She has particular expertise in community pediatrics, education and school health, preventative medicine, adolescent gynecology, and injury and violence prevention.

Recently named the chair of the Greater Miami 2018-2019 Go Red for Women campaign by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, Schaechter earned her undergraduate degree from Brown University, and completed her medical education and pediatric training at Stanford University. She also received an M.B.A. in Health Administration and Policy from the University of Miami Business School.

“This is a huge honor because I am able to serve this community, and serve with an incredible faculty who are extremely driven, mission-focused, and do the near-impossible everyday under difficult circumstances,” she said.

Joined by her husband, Roberto, and son, Jonah, Schaechter spoke about how George Batchelor’s legacy has had a profound impact on her, as well as her faculty and the children they serve.

She also congratulated her co-recipients, saying “both bring an incredible amount of excellence, high standards, and a commitment to furthering science. That is really in line with what George Batchelor would want from our department and our people.”

The Batchelor Foundation’s philanthropy also includes the 2001 dedication of the Batchelor Children’s Research Institute on the Miller School campus.

It was at that dedication that the late George E. Batchelor, a renowned entrepreneur and philanthropist, made a surprise announcement of an additional $5 million gift to establish the Micah Batchelor Award for Excellence in Children’s Health Research, in memory of his grandson, Micah.

In 2014, the Foundation committed an additional $5 million to expand the number of awards, as well as other gifts too numerous to name.

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