Stony Brook Medicine Receives $750K Pledge from Charles Gargano

Charles Gargano with Dr. Michael Poon

Charles A. Gargano, former U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago and long-time friend of Stony Brook University, has agreed to establish the Ambassador Charles Gargano Chair in Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging at Stony Brook Medicine.

The $750,000 gift will be matched dollar for dollar by the Simons Foundation Challenge and Jim and Marilyn Simons, creating a $1,500,000 philanthropic impact. The funds will be used to attract an accomplished, research-oriented scientist and clinician who is dedicated to finding new methods of diagnosis and treatment. The holder will serve as an institutional leader in advanced cardiovascular imaging. Generous funding will enable staff to conduct research using imaging tools and working with the clinical population.

Although he is not a graduate of Stony Brook, Gargano has supported the University for many years. He helped establish a Chair and a Center for Italian Studies more than 25 years ago, and in 2005 he received an honorary doctorate from Stony Brook University to honor both his accomplishments and his generosity.

“I lived on Long Island for many years, and my professional career was on Long Island before I went into the world of politics,” explained Gargano. “I have always thought of Stony Brook as an important institution. Recently, I have been impressed with the work of Stony Brook’s Dr. Michael Poon, who inspired me to make my latest gift.”

World-renowned cardiologist and imaging specialist Michael Poon, MD, came to Stony Brook in 2009, becoming Director of Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging at Stony Brook University Hospital and Professor of Radiology and Medicine (Cardiology) at Stony Brook University School of Medicine. Dr. Poon is one of the pioneers who helped develop CT imaging technologies to “photograph” the heart in motion, giving Emergency Room doctors the ability to more quickly and accurately diagnose the causes of chest pain. At Stony Brook, Dr. Poon literally changed the Emergency Room paradigm by recognizing the importance of advanced cardiac imaging.

“I saw that Dr. Poon’s work related not only to better outcomes for people who present in Emergency Rooms with chest pain but also to cost savings and better efficiency for hospitals and congested Emergency Rooms,” said Gargano, adding that Stony Brook University Hospital is making tremendous strides not only in imaging and cardiology, but also in cancer research and more. “The hospital is growing and is becoming increasingly more important to the people of Long Island.”

“Ambassador Gargano has been a valued friend of the University for many years,” said President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD. “This latest expression of his trust and confidence in our ability to advance the science of cardiovascular imaging is tremendously gratifying, and we will put his investment to good use right away.”

Gargano has long been a champion of economic development and public service. Before becoming active in politics, he served as a construction engineer and a principal at the New York/New Jersey-based J.D. Posillico Engineering and Construction. He was appointed as Deputy Administrator of the Federal Urban Mass Transportation Administration in 1981, and then as Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, serving from 1988 to 1991. He was the Chairman and Commissioner of Empire State Development and also served as a Vice Chairman of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from 1995 to 2007.

“Federal funding for research is dwindling,” said Vice President for University Advancement Dexter Bailey. “We very much rely on the generosity of people like Ambassador Gargano — people who want to help society by supporting new ideas, new research, new technology and the innovators who will provide solutions to great health challenges. The Gargano Chair in Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging is critically important, giving us the ability to continue to find ways to save lives, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”

Ultimately, Gargano hopes others will join him in reaching the $750,000 endowment goal. “Prospective donors who participate in this great opportunity will be helping advance cardiac imaging, which is such an important part of understanding and diagnosing individuals’ problems,” he explained. “Today it might be someone else, but tomorrow it might be ourselves. Private philanthropy is very important because it is the primary way for people to demonstrate their support for causes that matter to them. The Chair at Stony Brook is one of those important causes, and I hope Dr. Poon’s work will inspire others.”

“Dr. Poon’s research is truly transformative, and his work in cardiac imaging is leading to important advances in human health,” said Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, Senior Vice President, Health Sciences, and Dean of the Stony Brook University School of Medicine. “Because of Michael’s work, and in part because of the chair established through Ambassador Gargano’s amazing generosity, Stony Brook Medicine will not only better position itself as a national leader in imaging technology, we will save more lives and reduce the costs of medical care. At Stony Brook Medicine we are proud to make major contributions to basic research in biomedical imaging, and to shepherding those discoveries into novel clinical applications. We very much look forward to a myriad of great things to come from the Ambassador Charles Gargano Chair in Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging.”

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