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Gift to fund SBU chair

Charles Gargano, former U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, with Dr. Michael Poon, director of advanced cardiovascular imaging at Stony Brook University Hospital. Photo from SBU

March 15, 2013 | 11:30 AM
Charles Gargano, former U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago and long-time friend of Stony Brook University, has given $750,000 to the university and agreed to establish the Ambassador Charles Gargano Chair in advanced cardiovascular imaging at Stony Brook Medicine.

The gift will be matched by the Simons Foundation Challenge and Jim and Marilyn Simons, creating a $1.5 million philanthropic impact and will be used to attract an accomplished, research-oriented scientist and clinician who is dedicated to finding new methods of diagnosis and treatment. The holder will serve as an institutional leader in advanced cardiovascular imaging and the funding will also enable staff to conduct research using imaging tools and working with the clinical population.

Though he is not a graduate of Stony Brook, Gargano has supported the university for many years. He helped establish a chair and a Center for Italian Studies more than 25 years ago, and in 2005 he received an honorary doctorate from Stony Brook University to honor both his accomplishments and his generosity.

"I lived on Long Island for many years, and my professional career was on Long Island before I went into the world of politics," Gargano said in a release. "I have always thought of Stony Brook as an important institution. Recently, I have been impressed with the work of Stony Brook's Dr. Michael Poon, who inspired me to make my latest gift."

World-renowned cardiologist and imaging specialist Dr. Michael Poon came to Stony Brook in 2009, becoming director of advanced cardiovascular imaging at Stony Brook University Hospital and professor of radiology and medicine (cardiology) at Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

Dr. Poon is one of the pioneers who helped develop CT imaging technologies to "photograph" the heart in motion, giving emergency room doctors the ability to more quickly and accurately diagnose the causes of chest pain. At Stony Brook, Dr. Poon literally changed the emergency room paradigm by recognizing the importance of advanced cardiac imaging.

"I saw that Dr. Poon's work related not only to better outcomes for people who present in emergency rooms with chest pain but also to cost savings and better efficiency for hospitals and congested emergency rooms," said Gargano, adding that Stony Brook University Hospital is making tremendous strides not only in imaging and cardiology, but also in cancer research and more. "The hospital is growing and is becoming increasingly more important to the people of Long Island."

"Ambassador Gargano has been a valued friend of the university for many years," President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., said. "This latest expression of his trust and confidence in our ability to advance the science of cardiovascular imaging is tremendously gratifying, and we will put his investment to good use right away."

Gargano has long been a champion of economic development and public service. Before becoming active in politics, he served as a construction engineer and a principal at the New York/New Jersey-based J.D. Posillico Engineering and Construction. He was appointed as deputy administrator of the federal Urban Mass Transportation Administration in 1981 (now the Federal Transit Administration), and then as ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, serving from 1988 to 1991. He was the chairman and commissioner of Empire State Development and also served as a vice chairman of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from 1995 to 2007.

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