Making Headlines in 2006

GroundbreakingFrom celebrating the 125th anniversary of the College of Medicine, to breaking ground on a state-of-the-art complex to house the college, to groundbreaking research developments in diagnosing Burkitt lymphoma, 2006 was yet another stellar year for UNMC.

The year started with the announcement that the Munroe-Meyer Institute would develop a new autism and feeding disorders center to be directed by Wayne Fisher, Ph.D., and his wife, Cathleen Piazza, Ph.D.

Wayne Fisher and Cathleen PiazzaThe old Brace Place facility at MMI was renovated to be used by Drs. Fisher and Piazza, who came to UNMC in 2005 from the Marcus Institute in Atlanta, where they had run world-class programs for autism and feeding disorders.

In April, ground was broken on the Michael F. Sorrell Center for Health Science Education. The building, named for legendary UNMC physician and administrator, Michael Sorrell, M.D., will house the College of Medicine.

Omaha philanthropists Ruth and Bill Scott made a large donation to help cover the cost of the $52.7 million Sorrell Center, which is scheduled to open in fall 2008.

The Scotts were in the news again in May when they donated a gift to establish the Nebraska Arthritis Outcomes Research Center at UNMC. The center will seek to better understand the epidemiology of arthritis and to better analyze the determinants that predict outcomes for arthritis sufferers.

In May, UNMC's hospital partner, The Nebraska Medical Center, announced plans to open a new hospital in Bellevue.

In June, an international team of researchers that included UNMC scientists announced that it had successfully identified the gene expression signature for Burkitt lymphoma.

The discovery allows physicians to make quicker diagnosis of Burkitt lymphoma and thus speed treatment of the disease, which is a rare B cell lymphoma accounting for 30 to 50 percent of lymphomas in children.

Cattlemen's BallThe Cattlemen's Ball, held June 3 at Riverside Park near Milford, raised $563,250 for research at UNMC's Eppley Cancer Center.

That same day, NFL great Boomer Esiason spoke at the Durham Research Center as part of Cystic Fibrosis Education Day at UNMC. Esiason's son, Gunnar, suffers from the disease.

In August, UNMC announced it would launch the College of Public Health, the first new college at the medical center since 1968. The college, which was approved unanimously by the Board of Regents, will educate students on public health issues such as emergency preparedness, emerging and pandemic diseases, health disparities and obesity. Jay Noren, M.D., was named the college's founding dean.

Also in August, UNMC held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Research Center of Excellence II, a research tower that will mirror the Durham Research Center.

Funding for the $74 million facility is from private donations, with Omaha philanthropist Charles Durham, for whom the first tower was named, donating the lead gift.

August also produced news that UNMC's research funding reached record levels. UNMC researchers raised nearly $80 million in fiscal year 2005-2006 smashing the previous record of $72 million set one year earlier.

Later in the month, a team of UNMC physicians led by Mohammed Quader, M.D., performed a rare heart transplant during which doctors fixed an aortic dissection by replacing a damaged part of the aorta with a specially-engineered fabric called a Hemashield tube graft.

After the new graft was installed, the team gave the patient a new heart. The combination of aortic repair and heart transplant is extremely rare.

In September, UNMC released its first ever list of Distinguished Scientists -- 25 UNMC scientists recognized for being among the most productive scientists in the country over the past five years.

Headlining the list was Stephen Rennard, M.D., who was named the first UNMC Scientist Laureate for his outstanding work in pulmonary research.

In October, Congress appropriated $5.4 million to three UNMC projects aimed at supporting bioterrorism preparedness and biomedical technology, marking the largest congressional appropriation in the history of the medical center.

College of Medicine 125th AnniversaryAlso in October, a photo display commemorating the 125th anniversary of the College of Medicine was unveiled at the Durham Western Heritage Museum. The opening of the photo display, which will remain at the museum until April 29, was one of several events held throughout the year to commemorate the college's anniversary.

On Oct. 14, legendary television newsman Tom Brokaw spoke at the Ambassador of Hope Gala in Omaha. The event, which included satellite celebrations in Norfolk and Sidney, raised a record $1.6 million for research at the Eppley Cancer Center.

Dr. and Mary Ann Paustian and Ruth and Bill ScottRuth and Bill Scott were at it again in October when the couple donated money to name two amphitheaters in the new Sorrell Center and half of a floor in the new research tower after legendary UNMC physician Fred Paustian, M.D., and his wife Mary Ann "Maisie."

Dr. Paustian, who spent 40 years at UNMC, was the first specially-trained gastroenterologist in Nebraska.

In November, McGoogan Library unveiled its newly-renovated rare book rooms. The rooms, which house a collection of rare medical texts worth nearly $3.4 million, were renovated to include temperature and humidity controls and fire suppression systems aimed at better preserving the texts, some of which are hundreds of years old.

November's Mini Medical School on stem cell research drew a record crowd of 400 people to the Durham Research Center.

Also in November, UNMC announced Hawkins Construction Company of Omaha received the contract to build the Research Center of Excellence II, which is expected to be completed in late 2008 or early 2009.

In December a report was released showing UNMC had a $1.5 billion economic impact on the state of Nebraska during the fiscal year 2004-2005.

Dr. UedaAlso in December, Clarence Ueda, Pharm.D., Ph.D., announced he would step down this summer after serving 20 years as dean of the College of Pharmacy to return to classroom.

UNMC lost several leaders in 2006 as well, including Rena Boyle, Ph.D., who served as dean of the College of Nursing from 1967 to 1979. Dr. Boyle died on July 10 in a Phoenix nursing home at age 91.

UNMC also said goodbye to former UNMC Chancellor William Berndt, Ph.D., who died from lung complication on Aug. 31 at The Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. Berndt, who served as chancellor from 1996 to 1998, was 73.

Published in UNMC Today January 12, 2007