$2 million gift endows surgery chair at the School of Medicine

Wright State University School of Medicine announces the new Elizabeth Berry Gray Endowed Chair of Surgery. The endowment, the result of a $2 million gift from Mrs. Gray, will generate enough annual funding to develop a needed research division within the Department of Surgery.

"I have been interested in the health care of our community for years," says Gray. "I believe that this gift will benefit the entire Miami Valley. One of my lifelong friends, Dr. Robert K. Finley, Jr., is a retired surgeon. I have been impressed by his compassion, his skill, and his dedication. I believe my gift will nurture these characteristics in tomorrow's physicians."
Dr. Finley is a childhood friend and Oakwood High School classmate of Mrs. Gray. He also worked at the Berry Company office. He retired in 1993 as Clinical Professor Emeritus from the Department of Surgery and has volunteered his expertise around the world on a voluntary basis since then.

The department has sought to endow this position, notes Dr. James Peoples, current chair of surgery and the newly named Elizabeth Berry Gray Endowed Chair of Surgery. "This generous gift of Mrs. Gray will enable us to jumpstart our initiatives and will have a major impact on the future of both the department and the medical school. The annual funds will allow us to link relevant clinical data to basic science research and, ultimately, to improve patient care."

The funds will allow the department to hire a basic scientist to work with both residents and faculty. "We sometimes have patients who do not respond to standard treatment plans. A basic scientist can take these problems to the lab and develop clinical solutions for them," says Dr. Peoples. "We need this person to bridge the gaps between research and patient care." The new faculty member will help resident physicians with their required research projects and sit in on case conferences and grand rounds. Areas of special clinical interest include trauma care, burn care, vascular disease, gastrointestinal cancer, and breast cancer.

"This endowment," adds Dr. Howard Part, dean of the medical school, "is a legacy that will impact our community for years. It will allow us to recruit the highest caliber of teaching physicians and to expand the knowledge base of surgical health care."

Elizabeth Berry Gray is the daughter of Loren M. Berry, who founded the "Yellow Pages" and Dayton's The Berry Company more than ninety years ago. The Berry Company is the largest independent Yellow Pages publisher and sales agency in the United States.

As a child, Gray was a neighbor of Orville Wright. She is a staunch supporter of the conservation of the 1905 Wright Flyer III through Carillon Historical Park and has named a gallery, the Berry Wing of European Art, in honor of her daughter Marion at the Dayton Art Institute.

Wright State's Department of Surgery is one of the largest general surgery training programs in the United States. It accepts seven resident physicians each year for a five-year program that rotates through six hospitals and involves every surgeon in Dayton in either a full-time or voluntary capacity.

Last edited on 04/09/2015.