NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Rutgers Board of Governors today approved creation of endowed chairs in the fields of surgery, neurological surgery and genomic science, and named their first holders. The board also announced holders of the Tepper Family Chair in Visual Arts and the Unilever Chair for the Study of Diet and Nutrition for the Prevention of Chronic Disease.
Anne C. Mosenthal, appointed chair of the Department of Surgery at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School following a nationwide search in 2014, was named first holder of the newly created Benjamin F. Rush Jr. Chair in Surgery. Charles J. Prestigiacomo, appointed chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School after a national search upon the retirement of Peter W. Carmel, became the inaugural holder of the new Peter W. Carmel, M.D. Chair of Neurological Surgery. Shridar Ganesan, associate director for translational science and chief of molecular oncology at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ), was introduced as the initial holder of the new Omar Boraie Chair in Genomic Science. He is also an associate professor of medicine and pharmacology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Kara Walker, a distinguished visual artist whose work is represented in numerous major collections in the U.S. and Europe, and recipient of a John D. and Catharine T. MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, was appointed to the Tepper Family Chair in Visual Arts at the Mason Gross School of the Arts, the first such chair at the school. Xi Zheng, an internationally acclaimed expert in the area of cancer chemoprevention and experimental therapeutics, and an associate II member at CINJ, was appointed to the Unilever Chair for the Study of Diet and Nutrition for the Prevention of Chronic Disease. He is also an associate research professor of chemical biology at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy.“The generous support of our benefactors, including alumni, faculty, friends and corporate sponsors, that allows us to create these endowed chairs is ample evidence of their belief in Rutgers’ goal to achieve its place among the very best public research universities anywhere,” said Rutgers President Robert Barchi. “Their generosity enables us to recruit and appoint renowned individuals who are at the top of their respective fields to these important positions, which, in turn, will help us attract the highest quality scholars, teachers and students to the university.”
Mosenthal has served in numerous leadership positions since her arrival at New Jersey Medical School in 1992, including as co-director of the Trauma/Critical Care Fellowship program, chief of the Division of Surgical Palliative Care, vice chair for Academic Affairs in the Department of Surgery and chief of Surgical Services. She has an impressive record of research, clinical care and honors, including election as a fellow of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma.
The Rush endowed chair was established with a bequest from the Rush estate, proceeds from a special event in his honor, gifts from members of the Department of Surgery and a matching $1.5 million from an anonymous donor who committed to help create 18 new endowed chairs as part of Our Rutgers, Our Future campaign. That same donor supported the Peter W. Carmel, M.D. and Omar Boraie endowed chairs with matching $1.5 million gifts.
Prestigiacomo has an extensive record of research that has led to more than 120 refereed articles, 11 books, 51 chapters and four patents. He is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Society and was honored with the International Clinician of the Year Award from the International Brain Research Foundation.
The Carmel endowed chair is supported by faculty members from the Department of Neurosurgery, the Foundation for Pediatric Neurosurgery, Peter W. Carmel and Jaqueline A. Bello, and gifts from friends of Carmel along with the anonymous $1.5 million matching gift. Carmel is chair emeritus of neurosurgery at New Jersey Medical School and was also the president of the American Medical Association.
Ganesan, who leads CINJ’s research team in its precision medicine effort, has a strong record of achievement, with more than 50 refereed articles published in such premier journals as Science, Cell, Nature Genetics and the Journal of Cell Biology; three patents for his discoveries; and strong and consistent support from the National Institutes of Health, among others. He has been honored by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute with its First Family Fellowship and Gillette Young Investigator Award, by the National Cancer Institute with its Howard Temin Award and by the Sidney Kimmel Foundation with its Scholar Award.
The endowed chair is supported by a pledge from New Brunswick-based real estate developer Omar Boraie and the anonymous $1.5 million matching gift.
Walker, whose work is represented in the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, as well as museums in England, Ireland, Italy and Spain, among others, is widely acclaimed for bold explorations of issues related to race, identity, gender, sexuality and violence in a range of mediums, including hand-cut silhouettes, painting and sculpture. David A. Tepper and his wife Marlene A. Tepper, an alumna of Rutgers College and member of the Rutgers University Foundation's Board of Overseers, pledged $3 million to create the endowed chair.
Zheng, whose widely cited publications have established him a leader in his field, has had his research strongly and consistently supported by the National Institutes of Health. He has advanced the prevention and treatment of prostate and pancreatic cancer with the development of new anticancer agents. He has successfully led labs and large research initiatives in the U.S. and China.
The Unilever Chair was funded by a $1.25 million gift from the Thomas J. Lipton Co. to support a scholar with a distinguished record in nutritional research at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey.