Professor emeritus continues life’s work through endowment
Rajam Ramamurthy, M.D., may have been born and raised in India, but she’s grown fond of a particular American idiom.
“I believe you should put your money where your mouth is,” she says flatly.
Dr. Ramamurthy, professor emeritus in pediatrics, has a long history of giving back financially to the Health Science Center, where she has worked since 1977. Her latest gift of $100,000 established the Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy Endowment in Neonatology to support educational activities related to research on prematurity and premature infant care.
As a renowned neonatologist, Dr. Ramamurthy’s endowment is a continuation of her life’s work.
“When I took over the premature infant development clinic in 2000, one of the things I felt was that there was no educational activity in San Antonio or in most of South Texas for professionals who are helping these infants, such as physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, even physicians, pediatricians,” she said.
Once discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit, premature babies “were put in the mix of normal, full-term newborns…But these babies are extremely vulnerable, very delicate, and at least for the first few years of their lives they need very specialized, developmental care.”
The endowment will be used to educate those in the region about the importance of specialized care for premature infants. To that end, a portion of it was used to host the university’s first Rajam Ramamurthy Lectureship in Premature Infant Development in February, which featured Tonse Raju, M.D., medical officer of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the National Institutes of Health.
The Ramamurthy family began giving to the university in 1996. In that time, their donations have surpassed $154,000, and have supported various university initiatives and programs including student scholarships and endowments for research and education. In 2013, the family created the Dr. Somayaji Ramamurthy Professorship Fund in Pain Management, named for Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy’s husband, Somayaji Ramamurthy, M.D., a professor of anesthesiology.
Faculty gifts are an especially powerful example of philanthropy because of what they already contribute to the university in their time and brainpower, said William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, president of the Health Science Center.
“Our faculty is the engine that drives the missions of our university, and giving fuels the engine,” he said. “They see firsthand the impact of what is accomplished here, and they know the difference gifts can make. It is inspiring to see faculty invest in the future of our university through their own philanthropy.”
Faculty, by and large, do not amass great wealth, Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy said. Giving back takes a commitment. The first family endowment began on her and her husband’s 25th wedding anniversary when they asked their friends to forgo giving gifts and buy artwork instead, the proceeds of which funded the endowment.
“Gifts like these help us all see the good one person—one family—can do,” Dr. Henrich said.
Although retired, Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy plans to continue research in prematurity and stay involved at the Health Science Center. And she’ll keep on giving.
“My experience is you need to support things you believe in,” she said. “And it’s very important to do these kinds of activities so that these efforts can be sustained.”