The Hilton Americas-Houston ballroom was transformed into a cosmic experience Friday, Nov. 4 for the biennial University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Constellation Gala, an event dedicated to honoring luminaries of the institution.
Approximately 500 guests attended the celestial-themed gala to honor the legacy and achievements of Kathrine G. McGovern and her late husband, John P. McGovern, M.D., a pediatric allergist, immunologist and educator who devoted his life to scientific research and improving the lives of his patients.
“Dr. McGovern deeply believed that physicians needed not only scientific skills, but the ability to listen and empathize with their patients,” said Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, M.D., UTHealth president. “He once said: ‘We physicians are a privileged lot. Privileged to serve, to share the human drama of our patients, and to contribute to their health and well-being. To be properly educated to practice his or her art, it is essential that knowledge of science be supplemented by familiarity with the humanities.’
“Dr. McGovern was fortunate to have his wife by his side in all of his endeavors,” Colasurdo added. “In many ways, she embodies the very compassion that he so often and so famously spoke about. Because Kathy is humble, she is gentle, she is kind and she is generous and a true friend to many.”
Last year, UTHealth received a $75 million endowment from the McGovern Foundation and renamed the medical school the John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern Medical School in the couple’s honor. The sizeable gift supports medical training, research and educational programs, and funds 10 full-ride scholarships for students who not only show their academic strengths, but also demonstrate the same level of compassion for patients and families that John McGovern valued.
“Jack would be so proud to see our name on such a forward-thinking institution devoted to teaching generations of future physicians to be humanistic and compassionate caregivers,” Kathrine McGovern said. “My late husband … was devoted to excellence in patient care, research and education, the same high standards UTHealth Medical School pursues daily.”
The inaugural gala in 2014 honored legendary trauma surgeon and Life Flight founder James H. “Red” Duke, Jr., as well as distinguished UTHealth clinicians and scientists. While the initial event brought in $1.85 million, this year’s Constellation Gala set a new record with more than $5.6 million raised to benefit UTHealth students and to fund research, scholarships and faculty endowments.
UTHealth Luminaries, a volunteer group of young community leaders, concluded the event with the Club No Ursa Minor after-party that featured lively musical performances by the Jordan Kahn Orchestra. The after-party helped raise funds to benefit a pediatric brain cancer research program led David Sandberg, M.D., professor and chief of the division of pediatric neurosurgery at UTHealth McGovern Medical School, co-director of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and pediatric neurosurgeon at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.
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