Illinois Medicine

Volume 23 - Fall 2022

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of pediatrics and physician in chief at the Children's Hospital University of Illinois, noted that the endowed professorship will focus on genetically determined disease research and care management, with a particular emphasis on programs related to the genetics of congenital bone disease. "We are so very grateful for the establishment of the Asok K. Ray MD FRCS (Edin) and Purnima Ray Professorship in Pediatrics, which will substantially strengthen our human genetics program," Van Voorhees says. "We also greatly appreciate the interest and support of the Ray family for the department's mental health research program." Enrico Benedetti, MD, head of surgery at UI Health, said the establishment of the endowed chair will help further the COM's mission of educating pediatric surgeons in developing countries by bringing them to Chicago to train in robotics. "Rather than doing a tour in their county for five days, which doesn't leave a lasting effect, we want to train their surgeons to do their jobs for the future," he says. UI COM Executive Dean Mark Rosenblatt, MD, PhD, MBA, MHA, says that Ray's gift allows the College to pursue the goals of providing effective, compassionate and accessible children's healthcare "by supporting programming and facilities for faculty and students to innovate in the lab, classroom and beyond. Thus, the University of Illinois College of Medicine continues to develop future leaders who will be prepared with the training and confidence needed to meet the challenges our communities face." Dr. Ray's Legacy Dr. Ray plans to pass down his legacy of philanthropy in the community to his daughter, grandchildren and future generations. "I don't want to be Michael Jordan. I don't want to be Scottie Pippen," he says. "I don't want to be famous. I just wanted to be remembered as a little guy who came to this country, worked hard, achieved success, and paid his debt to society." "We're very fortunate to see throughout the years how hard my dad has worked and how dedicated he has been," says Mallika Ray, who co-manages not only the Indima Foundation but also its partnership with the Helping Hand Center. "From the beginning until now, to see all the projects and all the accomplishments that have happened with the foundation—I feel so grateful. And I am looking forward in the future to doing the same as my father has, and also passing this down to our children, as well." whom he worked as a fellow. "Word- of-mouth made me," he says. "The reason [he succeeded] is not because of my looks. It's not because of my background. It was because of hard work. Everybody sent their patients to me." Colleagues thought, "He is a wizard. He can take any case. We can trust and depend on him." After initially thinking he would return to India, Dr. Ray decided to stay in America—but first he needed to obtain citizenship and a U.S. license to practice medicine. That led to what he considers the most memorable day of his career: when he received his first job offer, from what was then St. Luke's Hospital (now part of Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's). He did not end up working there because he was drafted into the Vietnam War. But "God was with me" and he was never sent overseas. After returning to Chicago, Dr. Ray ended up working at Cook County Hospital—which had combined rounds with the College of Medicine, St. Luke's and Northwestern—where he felt warmly welcomed as part of a medical population that was diverse even in the early 1970s. He also set up a private practice at MacNeal, where he organized and served for 15 years as the first chair of the orthopedic department. He was also appointed associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at UI COM around the same time. Gratitude for His Generosity Dr. Ray named the newly established professorship in pediatrics at the College of Medicine after both himself and his wife to honor her stalwart support of his career and philanthropy over the years, no matter how many hours it kept him away from home. "She went along with me. She never questioned me," he says. "I would not come home until I saw my last patient, until I returned the last phone call. All the time, she supported me. I would not have become who I am without her." UI COM leaders whose departments and divisions will be the beneficiaries of Ray's support are grateful for his generosity. "Dr. Ray, being so generous, has shown over the years a remarkable commitment to the betterment of the surgical care of children, not only at UIC but around the world," says Thom Lobe, MD, director of global medicine and chief of the division of pediatric surgery at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System (UI Health). "Our intention is to make sure that the world knows what a remarkable man he has been, and how his career has helped make the surgical care of children around the world better." Benjamin Van Voorhees, MD, MPH, head of the department Illinois Medicine | 19 In recent years, Dr. Ray has provided UI Health with a donation of $500,000 toward the Asok K. Ray, MD, FRCS (Edin) and Purmina Ray Professorship in Pediatrics; and by creating a fully endowed chair in pediatric surgery with a $2 million funding commitment. UI Health transplant surgeon Enrico Benedetti (left) and UI COM Executive Dean Mark Rosenblatt (right) were among those who thanked Dr. Asok Ray for his philanthropic activities at a dinner held in his honor in April. P H O T O : D I A N E S M U T N Y

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