UW News

October 8, 1998

UW School of Medicine receives funds from grateful patient for endowed professorship in orthopaedics

Grateful for the excellent care he received in 1994 at Harborview Medical Center after a serious foot injury, a California man has donated $500,000 to the University of Washington School of Medicine to create an endowed professorship in the Department of Orthopaedics.

Jerome H. (John) Debs of Palo Alto, Calif., has also pledged to increase his total gift to at least $1.5 million by 2001, at which time the University will convert the professorship to the Jerome H. Debs II Endowed Chair for Orthopaedic Traumatology.

An alumnus and benefactor of Stanford University and member of its Athletic Board, Debs was injured at a Stanford football game when a camera truck ran over his foot as he stood at the edge of the football field. After researching all over the country for the best medical treatment, he came to Seattle for treatment at Harborview, a teaching hospital of the UW School of Medicine.

“We are most grateful for this generous gift from John Debs,” said Dr. Paul G. Ramsey, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “Continuing income from the endowment will support both basic and clinical research into orthopaedic trauma.”

Debs specified that the first holder of the professorship be an expert in the trauma and reconstruction of the lower extremities, particularly fractures of the heel bone.

“We are pleased to announce that Dr. Stephen K. Benirschke is the first holder of this professorship,” said Dr. Frederick A. Matsen, chair of the Department of Orthopaedics. “Steve is superbly qualified, in that he is an internationally recognized leader in the surgical management of complex foot and ankle injuries.”

Benirschke, UW associate professor of orthopaedics and an orthopaedic surgeon at Harborview, holds an M.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where he did his orthopaedic residency. He joined the UW faculty in 1985.

“Mr. Debs’ generous gift is a tribute to the extraordinary program in orthopaedic trauma developed by UW faculty at Harborview and to the synergy between our patient care and academic mission,” said Dr. James LoGerfo, Harborview medical director. “I am especially pleased that Dr. Benirschke has been appointed to this professorship, as he is a dedicated, creative and compassionate physician who constantly strives to find ways to improve patient outcomes.”