NYU School of Medicine today announced a $20 million gift from international businessman and philanthropist Hansjӧrg Wyss to establish a named Department of Plastic Surgery at the medical school—one of the only fully-accredited, academic plastic surgery departments in the country.
“The gift will be targeted to bolster programs and invest in new technology—all with the goal of bringing the newly-named Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery to the next level of excellence in reconstructive plastic surgery research, education, and clinical care,” said Robert I. Grossman, MD, dean and CEO, NYU Langone.
“This type of gift is truly transformational, and will propel the department into its next phase of growth by establishing new clinical trials, academic forums, and advancing surgical animation, among other initiatives,” added Eduardo D. Rodriguez, MD, DDS, the Helen L. Kimmel Professor of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, and chair of the department. “NYU Langone has a rich history of developing novel reconstructive plastic surgery procedures to provide superior outcomes for the most complex cases. I am excited for the medical advances that will undoubtedly come about as a result of this tremendous gift.”
The Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery has one of the largest residency and fellowship programs in the world, as well as a research program that has made major contributions in transplantation, wound healing, craniofacial biology, surgical simulation, and distraction osteogenesis. It also has the largest academic group of board-certified plastic surgeons in the country, with expertise in reconstructive facial surgery, microsurgery, breast reconstructive surgery, aesthetic surgery, wound care, and hand surgery.
A native of Switzerland, Mr. Wyss is an entrepreneur, visionary and generous philanthropist. For more than 30 years, he served as CEO of Synthes, Inc., an industry giant in medical research and device manufacturing whose products have helped millions of patients recover from skeletal and soft tissue trauma and injuries.
Mr. Wyss shepherded the sale of the company to Johnson & Johnson and now focuses his efforts advancing the mission of The Wyss Foundation, his family’s philanthropic arm. Practical and innovative by nature, Mr. Wyss’s philanthropic efforts foster new ideas, new tools, and new collaborations in areas from medicine, education and the arts to economic opportunity, conflict resolution, and land conservation.
“I am very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, and feel I have a duty to repay my good fortune through philanthropic endeavors that expand the reach of human possibility and compassion,” said Mr. Wyss. “I can’t think of a more responsible way to advance the mission of my family foundation than to support the amazing work of Dr. Rodriguez.”
In fact, Mr. Wyss has been a strong supporter of Dr. Rodriguez since 2005, providing funding for Dr. Rodriguez’s research efforts and educational initiatives during his tenure at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center. They immediately discovered a synergy in their passion for scientific innovation and for advancing the field of reconstructive plastic surgery to care for patients with severe deformities.
In Maryland in 2012, Dr. Rodriguez performed one of the most extensive face transplants to date on Richard Lee Norris. After this groundbreaking procedure, Mr. Wyss and Dr. Rodriguez were preparing to advance the Maryland program, and continued their discussions on further collaboration when Dr. Rodriguez was recruited to NYU Langone in 2013 as the third chair of the Department of Plastic Surgery.
Deborah (DJ) Haffeman