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Southwestern Medical Foundation has announced a new forum at Old Parkland, Leading the Conversation on Health, that highlights health care leaders in our community whose expertise range from biomedical research to innovations in patient care.

“Southwestern Medical Foundation is excited to launch a new series devoted to discussing the extraordinary strides being made in academic medicine, education and health care,” said Kathleen M. Gibson, President and CEO of the Foundation.

The forum kicked off October 15 with a Fireside Chat program in the Pecan Room at Old Parkland. Titled “Seizing Opportunities in Biotech and Biomedical Science,” the inaugural event featured two nationally acclaimed leaders in medical science, Dr. Steven McKnight and Dr. Eric Olson.

Dr. McKnight is Chair of the Department of BioChemistry at UT Southwestern and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He co-founded Tularik, a biotech company devoted to the discovery of ethical drugs to treat disease via the regulation of gene expression. Over the past 11 years, he has directed an active research laboratory and has guided the Department of Biochemistry to substantial growth in chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics.

Dr. Olson is Chair of the Department of Molecular Biology at UT Southwestern and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He is holder of the Annie and Willie Nelson Professorship in Stem Cell Research; the Pogue Distinguished Chair in Research on Cardiac Birth Defects; and the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Science. His research focuses on muscle development, stem cells, transcriptional regulation and MicroRNAs.

The October 15 forum was moderated by Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern. The event was hosted by Gibson, Foundation Chairman William T. Solomon and board member Harlan Crow.

Highlights included interactive conversations about the impressive quality and abundance of UT Southwestern’s biomedical research, leading to breakthroughs in biomedicine and patient care, and opportunities for more local support for biomedical venture opportunities that result.