The Dietz Family pictured on the campus of Southwestern Medical Foundation where they help support emerging medical discoveries through their philanthropy.

In 2015, Saryn and Jonathan Dietz became founding members of The Cary Council, a group of young leaders working with Southwestern Medical Foundation to advance early-stage research at UT Southwestern Medical Center. The Council strives to educate the next generation about the critical roles medical research, education, and patient care play in improving health and making Dallas a leading 21st century city. The couple embraced the opportunity to help shape this enthusiastic group of change-makers from its inception and help support emerging medical discoveries.

The significance of the Council’s mission really hit home to Jonathan in early 2020, as COVID-19 became increasingly active in the U.S.

“My father, Mark Dietz, was one of the first people in Dallas to be put on a ventilator,” said Jonathan. “He was intubated for 14 days and almost died. His doctors saved his life, which was just inspiring. Without them, he would not be here today. His follow-up care after that experience was at UT Southwestern, which gave me a personal glimpse into what happens there every day.”

Members of the Cary Council are pictured with DocStar early-stage research grant recipients in support of emerging medical discoveries.

2021 Cary Council Leadership with Early Stage Research Grant Recipients: Samuel John, M.D.,
Grace Cook, Event Co-Chair; Alexandra Kahn, Event Co-Chair; Amanda Eagle George, Chair, The Cary Council;
Emily H. Adhikari, M.D.; Owoicho Adogwa, M.D., M.P.H.

How The Cary Council Supports Emerging Medical Discoveries

Dr. Samuel John headshot. Dr. John is a recipient of The Cary Council's early-stage research grant in support of emerging medical discoveries.
Dr. Samuel John, a specialist in pediatric blood cancers, cellular therapy, and cancer immunotherapy who joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2017.

The Council raises funds from sponsorships and attendance at its signature event, An Evening with DocStars, which showcases current research at UT Southwestern through hands-on simulation and innovation stations. Since 2017, the group has awarded 12 grants to emerging researchers to help accelerate the momentum of their early-stage research in the fields of breast cancer, genomic technologies, and infectious diseases, among others. Following the initial grants, recipients have leveraged early-stage grants to secure $6.8 million in additional government funding in an effort to uncover emerging medical discoveries.

At a recent Council event, Jonathan met Dr. Samuel John, a specialist in pediatric blood cancers, cellular therapy, and cancer immunotherapy who joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2017.

“Dr. John described different pediatric cell therapies to help kids with leukemia,” said Jonathan. “It is one thing to say, ‘It’s nice to help cancer as a general cause.’ The Council gives us the direct connection to someone whose work explains the background of how something works, why it’s working, and what they’ve done to effect change. Saryn and I feel like we are making a meaningful impact when we hear stories about how Dr. John’s work is saving lives.”

We normally think of doctors as caregivers. Until we became involved in the Council, I didn’t really understand the research side of everything and how small, pinpointed research can make a huge impact on someone’s life. We are inspired and filled with gratitude that they are working to help people live and enjoy their lives.

Saryn Dietz

“It has been a tremendous privilege to work alongside Saryn and Jonathan Dietz, who clearly understand the meaning of community and progress,” said Kathleen M. Gibson, President and CEO, Southwestern Medical Foundation. “They have been a force on The Cary Council and have motivated their peers to believe in the possibilities of discovery. Their optimism about making the world better for their children, and all children, is truly inspiring.”

Family Ties

Saryn describes her parents as living examples of kindness and helping others in need. Born in Boston, she and her family eventually settled in Dallas, where she lived a substantial portion of her childhood. “My parents were big givers with their time and effort,” she said. “Growing up they expected a lot from us because we had been given so many blessings. They expected us to do our best in everyday life and help those less fortunate than us.”

Jonathan was born and raised in Dallas. His grandfather is the late Robert H. Dedman Sr., who was the patriarch of one of the most generous philanthropic families in Dallas.

My grandparents were outstanding role models who were both so much larger than life. If my grandfather saw a problem, he would fix it. He showed me that we all have a responsibility to do what is right. He was a builder and a giver, and he was my best friend.

Jonathen Dietz

Saryn and Jonathan met through mutual friends while home during summer break from college. They have been married ten years and both enjoy rewarding careers. As the director of sales enablement for United Way Worldwide, Saryn appreciates being part of United Way’s impact to strengthen communities throughout the U.S. Jonathan founded Mayborn Capital, an investment firm that operates and invests in Texas businesses where a founder is looking to retire.

The couple considers raising their children – 6-year-old Hudson, 4-year-old Sterling, and 1-year-old Holden – as their most important job. They recently had the opportunity to bring Hudson and Sterling to a special experience at UT Southwestern where they met Dr. Chika Nwachukwu, a 2020 Cary Council Early-Stage Research Grant recipient, and participate alongside Dr. Nwachukwu in a hands-on science experiment designed to showcase the research she is leading.

Dr. Chika Nwachukwu showing Hudson Dietz how to do her take-home experiment. Dr. Nwachukwu was awarded an early-stage research grant in support of emerging medical discoveries.
Hudson Dietz participated alongside Dr. Chika Nwachukwu, a 2020 Cary Council Early-Stage Research Grant recipient, in a hands-on science experiment designed to showcase the research she is leading.

“Jonathan and I love encouraging our kids to learn, and it was so special to watch them discover firsthand what doctors do. We try to instill kindness and goodness into them and make sure they are thankful for everything they have,” said Saryn. “We hope they grow up to be givers.”

Dedman Family Continues Legacy

The Dedman Foundation, created in 1995 by the late Robert H. Dedman, Sr. and his wife, Nancy, continues its longtime support of Southwestern Medical Foundation and the Dallas community. In 2008, the family gave $12 million to SWMF to establish the Dedman Family Endowed Program for Scholars in Clinical Care at UT Southwestern. The gift was matched to create a $24 million endowment that allows UTSW to recruit promising early-career physicians to be mentored by senior clinicians and physician-scientists.

Each year, two Dedman Scholar Awards are provided to junior faculty or faculty candidates within three years of their initial appointment at UTSW. Recipients receive $150,000 per year for four years to support their salaries and research activities in an effort to support emerging medical discoveries. Since 2008, 29 Dedman Scholars have been appointed, with innovative research spanning across fields such as Type 1 diabetes, organ transplantation, cystic fibrosis, liver disease, pediatric cancer, and many more.

Jonathan Dietz supports the mission of The Robert and Nancy Dedman Foundation by serving as Vice President on their Board. “I am happy to see Jonathan and Saryn continuing the family legacy of leadership in strengthening UTSW capabilities through the Dedman Scholars Program and their involvement with the Cary Council Early-Stage Research Grants. Multiple generations of our family and others’ involvement with providing resources to better enable the clinical and research functions at UTSW is vital to their mission of providing world-class medical care and research,” said Robert H. Dedman Jr., President of the Dedman Foundation and Southwestern Medical Foundation Trustee and Executive Committee Member.

“My uncle, Robert Dedman Jr., has done an incredible job putting together and leading the Dedman Family Endowed Program for Scholars in Clinical Care to advance many different aspects of clinical care,” said Jonathan.

Our family’s background in civic leadership has shown us there is always a reason to have hope for a better future. If we can direct some of our time, effort, or money – and it can be any one of those things – towards a cause, we can change the world.

Jonathan Dietz

Looking Forward to 2022

The Cary Council will hold its fourth An Evening with DocStars event in spring 2022, which is a special opportunity for the community to support The Cary Council’s mission, meet UT Southwestern faculty, and learn more about leading advancements in medicine occurring in Dallas. To stay connected and be one of the first to reserve tickets to An Evening with DocStars in 2022, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.