Med center ‘stars’ open new, premier IBD center

Med center leaders, local philanthropists and guests gathered at the Lied Transplant Center Wednesday night to officially open the Frederick F. Paustian Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at the Nebraska Medical Center.

The night was a celebration not only of Dr. Paustian, a pioneering gastroenterologist who helped build the medical center’s transplant program, but also of Michael Sorrell, MD, whom Dr. Paustian recruited to UNMC and Nebraska Medicine and who, in the words of UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, "took the baton from Dr. Paustian and took it further than was previously thought possible."

Dr. Sorrell also led the recruitment effort that brought Peter Mannon, MD, director of the center, to the medical center.

About Dr. Paustian

Frederick Paustian, MD, the first specialty-trained gastroenterologist in Nebraska, was instrumental in making gastroenterology one of UNMC's top centers of excellence. Dr. Paustian died in 2014.

Dr. Paustian and his first wife, Mary Ann "Maisie," who died in 2007, were close personal friends of the Scotts. Previous gifts from the Scotts recognized the Paustians by naming the two primary amphitheaters in the Michael F. Sorrell Center for Health Science Education after them and establishing the Frederick F. Paustian, MD, Gastroenterology Research Laboratories, on the seventh floor of the Durham Research Center II.

The center had its genesis in a 2015 gift from Omaha philanthropists Ruth and Bill Scott, with the express design of allowing UNMC and its clinical partner, Nebraska Medicine, to become one of the top centers in the country for treatment and research of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The gift also created the Ruth and Bill Scott Presidential Chair of Internal Medicine, which Dr. Mannon now holds.

On Wednesday, Dr. Gold thanked the Scotts for their support.

"If you look around this campus, it would be hard to find one square foot … that they have not helped to build or in some way make better," he said. "They have done so with a personal commitment to our mission while making a truly personal connection to all the people that bring our mission to life."

Nebraska Medicine CEO James Linder, MD, who was mentored by both Drs. Paustian and Sorrell, called the Scotts, the Sorrells and the Paustian family, represented by Dr. Paustian’s daughter, Cheryl Robinson, "stars" of the medical center.

"The trend of the medical center has been strictly upward," Dr. Linder said. "And it’s because of their leadership that we have been able to recruit and to fulfill the vision they had in building programs.

"The generosity of Bill and Ruth and others in the community … has really transformed things," he said.

picture disc.
James Linder (right), MD, Nebraska Medicine CEO, escorts Ruth Scott with UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, at the celebration to open the Frederick F. Paustian Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center.

Dr. Mannon, who also is chief of the UNMC Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, thanked the Scotts and Robinson when he took the podium.

Dr. Mannon spoke of the opportunity, vision and promise that drew him to the center, including the chance to build on Drs. Paustian and Sorrell’s legacy of academic and clinical excellence. He also thanked Debra Romberger, MD, chair of internal medicine, for her support.

"She’s been a mentor," he said. "You’re never too old to have a mentor."

He lauded the Scotts on their vision "to establish a place that would ensure optimal care and outcomes for thousands of patients" and Dr. Sorrell for his stewardship of that vision.

"I see the promise in what we can do — to be bold, to have big thoughts, to exceed expectations — and this is all due to the transformative support of the Scotts."

See more images from the opening of the Frederick F. Paustian Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center on this Flickr album.

Dr. Mannon and the center collaborate with the Nebraska Food for Health Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and its director, Andrew Benson, PhD, who is looking at dietary factors that collectively influence composition and function of the gut microbiome.

Dr. Benson said he was excited to work with Dr. Mannon and the center to discover how dietary strategies can affect the microbiome and be used to prevent diseases.

In closing, Dr. Gold thanked attendees, joined the ribbon cutting and said patients’ lives "are going to be changed and saved as a result of what you folks have done."

4 comments

  1. Ms. Amy Volk says:

    Ruth and Bill have done it again! They've invested in an area of importance and strength at UNMC and created something that will change the world — the IBD Center recognizes the key role of UNMC Giants, Dr. Paustian and Sorrell, it recognizes the recruitment of a new star to our campus, Dr. Peter Mannon and it creates a unique link to our partners in the UNL -Ag program where together UNMC and UNL will design precision food for health. Thank you Ruth and Bill.

  2. Jodi Parrack says:

    Congratulations Dr. Mannon for making this vision a reality!

  3. Tom O’Connor says:

    Another game changer – thanks Ruth and Bill! Your generosity has taken health care in Nebraska to a whole new level. What a legacy – it’s absolutely amazing!

  4. Roslyn B Mannon says:

    Great seeing everyone and having the support; this is an incredible strategic initiative!

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