Fred and Lisa White create legacy gift for Medical Center

By Sharon Reynolds

Fred and Lisa White

 Fred and Lisa White connected with UT Southwestern after moving to Dallas in 2002. Today, UTSW physicians provide them with all of their health care needs, and they are grateful for the outstanding resources available to them right here, close to home.

“UT Southwestern is one of the top-performing academic medical centers in the U.S. and is filled with exceptionally talented people,” Mr. White said. “From the world-renowned physicians to the client support staff, they all treat us like family.”

The Whites decided to make a philanthropic gift to honor the memories of their grandson and Mr. White’s father, as well as to honor his mother who is still living. Their gifts totaling $100,000 will support two UTSW projects that are near and dear to their hearts: $50,000 for multiple sclerosis (MS) research and $50,000 to establish the Austin Putnam White Fund for Perinatal Palliative Care Training.

Mrs. White was diagnosed with MS in 1990, at a time when there were no FDA-approved therapies for the disease. Now there are over a dozen with the first-ever approved therapy for primary progressive MS. The Whites hope their gift to support the collaborative MS research of Dr. Benjamin Greenberg, Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics and Pediatrics, and Dr. Nancy Monson, Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics and Immunology, will lead to even more treatment advances.

“This is an exciting time in MS because we are witnessing the first clinical trials of drugs to go beyond prevention to zero in on repairing the damage that has been done,” Dr. Greenberg said. “We’ve come a long way in 25 years, but there is still work to be done. The research funded in part through this generous gift is focused on understanding the cause of MS and identifying new therapeutic targets.”

In addition, their gift supporting perinatal palliative care will provide training for maternal-fetal medicine fellows in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The gift honors their grandson, Austin, who was stillborn.

“A person never sees something like this coming,” Mrs. White said. “After losing her infant, a mother comes home to an empty nursery. She has nobody who truly understands what she’s going through. The loss of Austin was painful for all of us, and we hope this gift can make a difference for other families.”

Dr. Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UTSW, said perinatal palliative care is helpful for families dealing with the uncertainty of inherited birth defects diagnosed before a baby is born that will require difficult and long-term neonatal treatment; very premature infants who will spend months in the neonatal intensive care unit and face unknown complications relating to prematurity; and patients who had an unforeseen birth complication, including losing a child to stillbirth.

“The White family’s generous gift will provide physicians with training not typically part of routine education. Our hope is they will be better equipped to provide support to this group of patients,” she added.

“The Whites’ gift can generate new knowledge that will enable physicians and scientists to make more rapid advances in the prevention and treatment of multiple sclerosis,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern. “In addition, they have enhanced the comfort care experience at UT Southwestern and created hope for other families. We are deeply honored they have chosen to recognize their family members through this meaningful gift.”

Dr. Greenberg is a Cain Denius Scholar in Mobility Disorders.

Dr. Horsager-Boehrer holds the Luis Leib, M.D. Professorship in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

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