By: Jeremy Simon l CU Foundation
AURORA, Colo. – In recognition of their long-standing relationship with the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Craig Slater and his wife, Colleen, have donated $1.5 million that establishes the Slater Family Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology.
This new $2 million endowment (established with the Slater gift and other commitments, and which will support a senior-faculty position) represents the second gift of $1.5 million or greater toward ophthalmology at CU within the last three months. These gifts come as the affiliated CU Eye Center prepares to break ground in June on a larger home at the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute at University of Colorado Hospital.
The holder of the Slater Family Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology will be Professor of Ophthalmology Malik Y. Kahook, MD, who is director of clinical and translational research and chief of the glaucoma service at the CU Eye Center. An endowed chair gift provides a reliable and perpetual stream of support for the chairholder. It is also a public indicator of a program’s prestige and helps universities recruit and retain top talent.
Dr. Kahook’s research focuses on multiple unmet needs within the ophthalmology field, including novel glaucoma therapies, advanced cataract surgery devices and implants, drug delivery targeting macular degeneration, and advanced imaging techniques.
“The generous gift from the Slater family is a formative event in our efforts to innovate both in clinical care and scientific discovery within the department of ophthalmology,” Dr. Kahook said. “I look forward to the hard work we have ahead of us and to developing new treatments for blinding diseases.”
A 1979 undergraduate alumnus of the University of Colorado Boulder and 1996 graduate alumnus of the University of Colorado Denver Business School, donor Craig Slater has served in multiple leadership roles over more than 25 years with the Anschutz Corporation. He now serves as chairman of Anschutz Investment Company.
The Slater family is making this gift because of their long-standing relationship with the Department of Ophthalmology and their belief that future therapies and cures for blinding diseases can be achieved by Dr. Kahook and his colleagues.
The CU Eye Center at the Anschutz Medical Campus—the only academic eye center within a 500-mile radius—has set an ambitious goal of establishing new, interconnected research programs in six high-priority areas and doubling its annual patient capacity from 75,000 to 150,000. The latter would be enabled in part by an anticipated tripling of space at its home at the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute building in University of Colorado Hospital.
This “Bringing Sight to Life” CU initiative will depend heavily on private support, and the program hopes that the Slater family’s gift will generate attention and momentum for this fundraising effort, and for the caliber of eye care and research at CU. With more than 50 faculty members in the Department of Ophthalmology, CU’s program is growing rapidly to rival the size of the largest departments in the country. CU was the first U.S. academic center to commercially use femtosecond laser cataract surgery, and the first to discover use of silicone oil to mitigate radiation damage to the eye, among other pioneering achievements.
In March, Sue Anschutz-Rodgers donated $2 million that established an endowed chair in retinal diseases, now held by Naresh Mandava, MD, chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the CU School of Medicine.
These gifts are among more than 300,000 gifts made during Creating Futures, a $1.5 billion fundraising campaign to enhance University of Colorado education, research, outreach, and health programs benefiting citizens throughout and beyond Colorado. Visit cufund.org for more information.