In a move that promises to have a significant impact on the health of people in Atlanta and around the state, former Georgia Pacific Chairman and CEO Pete Correll and his wife, Ada Lee, have pledged $2.5 million through the Correll Foundation to the Emory University School of Medicine.
The gift will support scholarships for medical students as well as faculty research and teaching in areas such as urology, emergency medicine and biomedical engineering. The gift will fund four new term professorships for five years, named for the Corrells.
The Correll Scholars Fund will provide $200,000 each year for the next five years for medical student scholarships. Currently one of every five physicians in Georgia is trained at Emory, and many medical students graduate with more than $150,000 in debt. As the cost of medical education increases nationwide, scholarships help Emory recruit the best and brightest students regardless of financial means and allow students to concentrate on medicine without worrying about overwhelming debt. Scholarship support means Emory medical students do not have to choose a specialty based on its potential to repay their loans. Scholarships also allow students to work in academic medicine to further advance understanding and treatment of disease and provide care based on the latest science.
In many ways, the gift parallels the Corrells' own experiences with health issues, beginning more than a decade ago when Ada Lee Correll had a cardiogram as part of her annual physical at Emory which resulted in open heart surgery the next day. Five years later, doctors in Emory University Hospital's Emergency Department revived Pete Correll after a major heart attack. More recently, Emory doctors detected an early stage cancer and removed one kidney.
"If you're going to have a heart attack, the Emory emergency room is the best place to have it," says Pete Correll. "The doctors at Emory saved my life twice and my wife's once. The School of Medicine is a resource to Atlanta and the state and deserves our support. We felt that we had a strong obligation to pay back, especially after we got to know the faculty and began understanding how important Emory's mission is to the people in Atlanta."
For example, almost everyone will suffer from a urologic disorder in his or her lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 51,190 new cases of kidney cancer (31,590 in men and 19,600 in women) in the United States in the year 2007, and about 12,890 people (8,080 men and 4,810 women) will die from this disease.
Emory's Department of Urology has made significant progress in diagnosing and treating small, localized tumors because of improvements and availability in imaging. Emory Urology is one of only a few centers routinely performing two minimally invasive procedures to destroy tumors and is comparing results to determine which procedure is most effective. Future research efforts will concentrate on improved targeting of tumors and additional agents to further overall treatment.
Another professorship will help support teaching and groundbreaking work to improve emergency cardiac care throughout metro Atlanta and the United States, advance research to save lives and set a model of emergency care for the nation. Emory's emergency medicine program is among the oldest, largest and most proactive in the country, treating about 160,000 patients annually at three locations -- Grady Memorial Hospital, Emory University Hospital and Emory Crawford Long Hospital. Many of those patients have cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. More timely diagnosis and treatment of cardiac emergencies could save thousands of lives each year.
The Ada Lee and Pete Correll Professorship in Biomedical Engineering will go to a faculty member involved in Emory and Georgia Tech's joint venture in nanomedicine and cardiovascular disease, in particular the early detection of plaque in atherogenesis. Tiny nanoparticles, each about 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, may be used to find and treat microscopic plaques before they clog arteries and cause heart attacks.
The Ada Lee Correll Teaching Professorship, named in honor of the former K-7 teacher, will recognize an outstanding faculty member in the medical school who serves as an inspiration and mentor to students and who furthers the vision of producing 21st century doctors who will transform health and healing. This professorship will allow talented physician faculty to focus on teaching and help insure that new generations of doctors will be health care leaders with innovative approaches to preventing, treating and curing life-threatening diseases.
Professorships recognize and help recruit and retain top-level clinicians, teachers and researchers, and provide additional support for ongoing research. That is particularly important as Emory, like other academic medical institutions across the nation, increasingly battles shortfalls caused by reduced revenues from traditional sources. The widening gap threatens the time that physician faculty in academia have to teach, to explore and test novel treatments for disease, and to implement new and better standards of care. A named professorship helps close that gap by contributing to a professor's compensation and research and ensures that thousands of students, patients and others benefit from the work of these faculty members. Emory will name recipients of the professorships later this year.
"We are extremely grateful to Ada Lee and Pete Correll for their support of teaching and research in these critical areas," says School of Medicine Dean Thomas J. Lawley "Their gift will not only recognize dedicated faculty physicians and further their research, it will also lighten the financial load carried by medical students and help us attract the best students and physician scientists to Atlanta and Georgia. Ultimately, Ada Lee and Pete Corrells' generosity will affect people's lives everywhere."
The Corrells have given decades of volunteer service to Atlanta and have actively supported the Emory School of Medicine, chairing its 150th anniversary that benefited the new School of Medicine building scheduled to open this spring. More recently they agreed to co-chair the medical school's efforts in Emory's upcoming comprehensive campaign. Ada Lee Correll is active with numerous other organizations in Atlanta, ranging from the Boys & Girls Clubs and Young Audiences at Woodruff to Leadership Atlanta. Pete Correll, who served as chairman and chief executive officer of Georgia Pacific from 1993 to 2005, is on the advisory board of Emory's School of Medicine as well as boards for The Carter Center, the Commerce Club and the Woodruff Arts Center, to name a few. Like Ada Lee, whose photo hangs in the United Way's community service gallery, Pete Correll has garnered many awards for his volunteer work. The Atlanta Business Chronicle named him among the most influential Atlantans for four consecutive years.