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A professorship celebration "from the heart to the heart"

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Holly Korschun

Front row (l-r) Daniel Sperling, Dr. Sidney M. Barr, Dr. Laurence Sperling, Alex Katz, Ellen Katz

Back row (l-r) Mathew Sperling, Dean Vikas Sukhatme, Dr. David Stephens, President Claire E. Sterk

The Katz Professorship in Preventive Cardiology dedication held on Thursday, Oct. 25 did more than recognize the commitment of Laurence Sperling, MD, to Emory and the field of preventive cardiology. It was a celebration of philanthropy and the partnerships that make Emory a world-class academic medical center.

As President Claire E. Sterk reminded those in attendance, endowments enhance the lives of faculty, staff and students, as well as of the those in the community that Emory serves. “We are very fortunate to have you realize what Emory stands for,” she told Alex and Ellen Katz, who were in attendance. President Sterk went on to thank the Abraham J. & Phyllis Katz Foundation and Katz family for giving through kindness, expressing that the Katz Professorship “is yet another gift from the heart to the heart.” 

Vikas P. Sukhatme, MD, ScD, dean of Emory University School of Medicine, illustrated the breadth of giving from the Katz family by asking those in attendance who held positions funded by the Katz Foundation to rise. Those standing were professors and fellows who represented the School of Medicine but were a shining example of the foundation’s impact on Emory.

“Such support,” remarked David S. Stephens, MD, vice president for research at Woodruff Health Sciences Center, “makes it possible for Emory to reward the tremendous work of our best physician-scholars.” Alongside President Sterk, Dean Sukhatme, and W. Robert Taylor, MD, PhD, director of the Division of Cardiology, Stephens presented the Katz Professorship certificate, saying, “Dr. Sperling has been an advocate and leader by training so many rising scholars and clinicians in the field. It is a great pleasure to acknowledge his accomplishments in this way.”

Sperling, who is also the founding director of preventive cardiology at Emory Clinic and co-director of the Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program, echoed President Sterk’s remarks about giving from the heart, recollecting his own relationship with Emory, which began in 1981 when he was an undergraduate. He recounted watching Emory’s cardiology program, “the first academic training program in the country with a focus on preventive cardiology,” grow as the result of philanthropy. For an example of what he meant, he asked to recognize members of the Katz Preventive Cardiology Fellowship Program who were in attendance. 

Gratitude was not just reserved for Emory benefactors. “I would like to show my sincere appreciation for the Department of Advancement and Alumni Engagement,” Sperling said, “especially for Vicki Riedel [executive director of development for Woodruff Health Sciences Center], whose support of our cardiovascular prevention programs has allowed us to move forward and look toward the future.”

Perhaps most grateful was Alex Katz, who concluded the evening’s program by discussing his views on the enhancements in medicine that prevent early death, and how Dr. Sperling saved his life over a decade ago. “Larry took care of me,” he said, with an emotional dedication. “He still takes care of me. And now I get to enjoy time with my grandchildren.”

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