Oct. 15, 2008 | An investiture ceremony held Oct. 8 was twice as nice for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute as two of its faculty members received endowed chairs established by gifts from two longtime UAMS supporters.
Nalini Bora, Ph.D., received the Bernice Young Jones Chair in Ophthalmology and Christopher T. Westfall, M.D., received the Pat Walker Chair in Ophthalmology at the ceremony held in the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute.
“This is a remarkable day in the history of UAMS and the Jones Eye Institute,” said I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., UAMS chancellor. “We’ve held several of these ceremonies over the years and in my time here, but this is a first that two chairs have been given at the same time. Perhaps that’s fitting given that both recipients are equally well-deserved of this honor.”
Bora’s Bernice Young Jones Chair was established by a gift from the Harvey & Bernice Jones Charitable Trust to enhance the science of ophthalmology through research, education or patient care. Jones has been an ardent supporter of UAMS and in 1991 contributed the largest gift ever at that time to build the Jones Eye Institute.
Bora’s former mentor, John P. Atkinson, M.D., professor of medicine in the Division of Rheumatology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, attended the ceremony.
“From the time we first crossed paths, I knew Nalini would go on to have a profound career in her field, and I know she will use this opportunity to further the innovative research that she already has a reputation of advancing,” Atkinson said.
Bora, a professor and director of research in the Pat and Willard Walker Eye Research Center, focuses on the understanding of biochemical, immunological and molecular mechanisms of various ocular disease such uveitis, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), keratitis and ocular tumors. She and her team have made many significant breakthroughs in eye research, including becoming the first team to demonstrate the importance of innate immune response in the protection of normal ocular tissues against infection as well as in the development of blinding ocular diseases such as AMD and uveitis.
Westfall’s Pat Walker Chair was established by gifts from the Pat and Willard Walker Foundation to reduce vision loss through research, education and patient care. Walker is also a dedicated UAMS supporter whose previous contributions helped establish the Pat & Willard Walker Eye Research Center and the Pat Walker Tower of the Jones Eye Institute.
“It’s an honor to be here for Chris to honor what he has already done and to recognize what he can do for the future,” said John W. Shore, M.D., former chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Wilford Hall United States Air Force Medical Center, Westfall’s former mentor.
Westfall is vice chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology and director of the Orbital/Oculoplastic service at UAMS, the John L. McClellan Veteran's Hospital and at Arkansas Children's Hospital. He retired from the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps in 1995 with the rank of colonel after having served as chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at Lackland Air Force Base for five years, and as chief consultant in ophthalmology to the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General.
“What a wonderful day for Jones Eye Institute and the entire UAMS family,” said John Shock, M.D., executive vice chancellor and director of the Jones Eye Institute. “Because of the generosity and continued commitment made by the Walker and Jones families, advancements in medicine will be made and lives will be changed.”
UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,652 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year. Visit www.uams.edu.