Medicine: Faculty make a lasting difference for their specialties

With a generous gift of $50,000, Christine R. Isaacs, M.D. (H.S.’01/M), and Jonathan E. Isaacs, M.D. (M.D.’96/M; H.S.’01/M), are supporting early career opportunities at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine.

Just as the couple benefited from discretionary funds in their respective departments as young faculty in the School of Medicine, they hope their gift provides similar opportunities for others to pursue their own projects leading to advanced knowledge and better health care.

“VCU is so important to us,” said Christine Isaacs, associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “We have a great feeling of appreciation and support for the opportunities that the school had given us on our career paths. We’ve thrived as faculty and as clinicians because of those opportunities and wanted to pay it forward.”

The Drs. Jonathan and Christine Isaacs Academic Fund in Orthopaedic Surgery and Obstetrics and Gynecology will make its first award this year in support of the academic missions of the two departments. The awards will rotate, with the first to be awarded in Orthopaedic Surgery.
“Our role in academic medicine is not only to provide cutting-edge clinical care but also to advance the medical knowledge in our respective fields,” Christine Isaacs said. “It’s part of what we do and that’s why we created this fund – to try to guide the care and advance it as part of our mission in academia.”

The yearly award of about $2,500 can be used for conference travel and related expenses or equipment essential to a specific project. Anyone with a passion for advancing their field, from a midwife to an attending physician to a resident, can qualify.

“Christine and I have been successful at VCU,” said Jonathan Isaacs, professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. “I’ve been successful in garnering a national reputation for the work done in nerve generation at VCU. The only way I was able to do this was because my chair supported me and wanted to give me the tools necessary for the work. Because of that, I was able to set up a laboratory for nerve research.

“We want to give other young faculty the same advantages we had and to give the chairs the ability to develop faculty the way we were developed.”

Awards are made at the chairs’ discretion to best meet the needs of each department.

“If you follow the debates in Washington, D.C., you know what great financial pressure graduate medical education is facing today,” said Jerry Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., dean, VCU School of Medicine, and executive vice president for medical affairs, VCU Health System. “Jonathan and Christine Isaacs felt so strongly about supporting their respective specialties that they’ve created a vital resource.
“I greatly admire them for the way they’ve gone above and beyond their roles as faculty members. They have made a lasting difference at our medical center.”