Pak donation establishes trio of professorships

By Donna Steph Hansard / August 2011

Longtime faculty member and world-renowned mineral metabolism researcher Dr. Charles Y.C. Pak has donated $300,000 to UT Southwestern for research and clinical advancements.

His gifts will create three new professorships to honor individuals who have made both a significant contribution to medicine, and an impact on his life, Dr. Pak said. The three professorships and their first holders are:

Charles Y.C. Pak, MD
  • the L. David Hillis, M.D. Professorship in Clinical Research in Cardiology, which will be held by Dr. Richard C. Wu, associate professor of internal medicine;
  • the Charles B. Mullins, M.D. Professorship in Clinical Practice and Teaching in Cardiology, which will be held by Dr. M. Elizabeth “Beth” Brickner, professor of internal medicine;
  • the Laura Kim Pak, M.D. Professorship in Mineral Metabolism Research, which will be held by Dr. Khashayar Sakhaee, chief of mineral metabolism.

“I have known and admired these individuals a long time, both personally and professionally,” said Dr. Pak, professor of internal medicine. “Each has had a great influence in his or her field of medicine and has touched my life. UT Southwestern has allowed me to succeed in my career. With these gifts, I wanted to give something back and acknowledge the role of clinicians, researchers and teachers at the medical center.”

Dr. Pak is past director of the Charles and Jane Pak Center for Mineral Metabolism and Clinical Research, named in his and his wife’s honor. He is the current director of the Neill Walsdorf Sr. Biotechnology Center in Mineral Metabolism.

Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, president of UT Southwestern, said: “As evidenced by his long prestigious career and his many contributions to UT Southwestern, both financially and medically, Dr. Pak is a strong advocate of medical education, research and clinical care. Many programs at UT Southwestern have benefited and will continue to thrive because of his generosity and knowledge.”

Since 2007, Dr. Hillis has served as chairman of internal medicine at UT Health Science Center, San Antonio. He previously was professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern for more than three decades and vice chairman of internal medicine at UT Southwestern. A nationally known cardiologist, Dr. Hillis is a leading authority on ischemic heart disease and coronary artery disease and is the author or co-author of more than 350 published articles, reviews, books and book chapters. He serves on the editorial boards of The New England Journal of Medicine and The American Journal of Cardiology.

Dr. Wu, holder of the Hillis Professorship, is a clinical cardiologist and director of the electrophysiology lab at UT Southwestern University Hospital.

Dr. Mullins retired as executive vice chancellor for health affairs for the UT System in 2001, a position he held for almost 20 years. A graduate of UT Southwestern, he was a resident at Parkland Memorial Hospital following three years of service as an Air Force flight surgeon. After completing a postdoctoral research fellowship at UT Southwestern, Dr. Mullins became chief resident in internal medicine at Parkland. He subsequently served in a number of positions at the two institutions, including director of Parkland’s cardiac catheterization laboratory and director of medical affairs at UT Southwestern. He is an Ashbel Smith Professor at UT Southwestern.

Holder of the Mullins professorship, Dr. Brickner is a clinical cardiologist specializing in echocardiography and adult congenital heart disease. A UT Southwestern faculty member since 1991, he is director of the Audre and Bernard Rapoport Center for Cardiovascular Research at UT Southwestern, leads the medical center’s adult congenital heart disease clinic and is medical director of the cardiovascular (echocardiography) laboratory at Parkland.

Both Drs. Brickner and Wu were instrumental recently in helping Dr. Pak with medical issues.

“I realize from personal experience that UT Southwestern needs superb clinicians, researchers and teachers such as Drs. Wu and Brickner,” Dr. Pak said, “and I wanted to help in a small way.”

Dr. Pak’s daughter, Dr. Laura Kim Pak, is a member of the board of the Charles Y.C. Pak Foundation, founded by her father in 1989. She is chief of vascular/endovascular surgery at Marin General Hospital in California and a founding member of the Young Surgeons Advisory Committee of the Society for Vascular Surgery. She grew up in Dallas, was educated at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and served on the faculty of the University of California at San Francisco before assuming her current position.

Dr. Sakhaee succeeded the elder Dr. Pak as chief of mineral metabolism at UT Southwestern, where he has served a professor of internal medicine for many years.

“It is a great honor to hold a professorship endowed by my mentor, Dr. Pak, with whom I have worked closely for more than 30 years,” Dr. Sakhaee said. “It also is a privilege to be associated with the name of Dr. Laura Kim Pak, whom I have know since her childhood and whom I have proudly watched as she became a prominent vascular surgeon.”

Dr. Charles Pak holds the Alfred L. and Muriel B. Rabiner Distinguished Academic Chair for Mineral Metabolism Biotechnology Research.
Dr. Sakhaee holds the BeautiControl Cosmetics Inc. Professorship in Mineral Metabolism and Osteoporosis.
Dr. Wu holds the Dallas Heart Ball Chair in Cardiac Arrhythmia Research.