Dr. Kern Wildenthal to Receive Callier Care Award at Annual Luncheon

Dr. Kern Wildenthal

Dr. Kern Wildenthal

The Callier Center for Communication Disorders will honor health care leader Dr. Kern Wildenthal with the 2017 Ruth and Ken Altshuler Callier Care Award at the sixth annual Callier Cares Luncheon on Thursday, April 20.

The award is presented annually to an individual or group that has contributed significantly to the betterment of the community and to advancing the care of patients with communication disorders. Proceeds from the luncheon benefit patients who would otherwise be unable to afford their treatment through the Callier Care Fund.

“Kern has been a force for good in Dallas for more than 40 years,” Dr. Ken Altshuler said. “He conceived of and raised funding to develop the entire north and west campuses of UT Southwestern Medical School and fostered the high level of scientific research that attracted and supported world famous Nobel Prize winners.”

Wildenthal served as president of UT Southwestern Medical Center for 22 years, helping build the institution into one of the foremost medical centers in the world. He currently serves as president emeritus and professor emeritus of medicine at UT Southwestern. Wildenthal is also a consultant for Children’s Health System of Texas and past president of Children’s Medical Center Foundation.

“For optimal progress to occur, it is vital for groups of individuals with different priorities to coalesce around shared purposes and effectively move forward in the same direction,” Wildenthal said. “Collaboration is key.”

He also said that a mutual respect and partnership between UT Southwestern and the Callier Center has resulted in key collaborations over the years. He learned about the Callier Center in his early days at UT Southwestern Medical School.

Callier Cares Luncheon

When: noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, April 20
Where: Dallas Country Club
Tickets: To reserve tickets and tables, visit the Callier Cares Luncheon website. Proceeds benefit patients in need through the Callier Care Fund.

“We were aware that there was this important jewel of a program that was not duplicated anywhere else,” he said. “When I became dean of the graduate school and then of the medical school, and ultimately the president, it was a no-brainer that the medical center needed to nurture the relationship between UT Southwestern and Callier.”

As the need for child care increased, a natural partnership arose between the Callier Center and UT Southwestern.

“It became obvious that Callier had a wonderful child development program for children with communication disorders and also for typically developing children,” Wildenthal said. “Thanks to Callier’s collaboration, it became possible for UT Southwestern faculty and staff to enroll their children in the program, which enabled Callier to broaden its scope, expand its space and accept more children — to the benefit of both institutions.”

Wildenthal also was instrumental in the development of the cochlear implant program, a cooperative effort between the Callier Center, UT Southwestern and Children’s Medical Center. Through a comprehensive interdisciplinary process of evaluations, surgical implantation and follow-up services, the program has made it possible for many profoundly deaf children to hear.

“The cochlear implant program — from its initial startup to its current position as one of the nation's leaders — is a wonderful example of how much our institutions can accomplish together,” Wildenthal said.

The Callier Center, UT Southwestern and Children’s Medical Center also work together to care for children with autism.

“Not long ago, the diagnosis and treatment of autism in Dallas was really a hodgepodge,” Wildenthal said. “Parents of an autistic child didn’t know where to turn, and often were having to leave the state to find help.”

With Wildenthal initiating the collaboration, UT Southwestern, the Callier Center and Children’s Medical Center formed a joint program funded by a grant from the Crystal Charity Ball to evaluate and treat children with autism, providing a single point of entry and coordinated care for families.

The cochlear implant program — from its initial startup to its current position as one of the nation's leaders — is a wonderful example of how much our institutions can accomplish together.

Dr. Kern Wildenthal, recipient
of the 2017 Ruth and Ken Altshuler Callier Care Award 

“Medicine has become so complicated that it takes a team of health care providers to progress,” Wildenthal said. “There won’t be simply one doctor prescribing a drug or doing a procedure. It would be wonderful if autism or hearing problems could be solved that way, but in reality, it requires the development of sophisticated multidisciplinary health care teams for diagnosis, treatment and prevention.”

He sees research as essential to improving health care in the future.

“Health care is at a turning point. If we don’t learn more through research, we’ll be fighting the same fights, and it will get more and more expensive and more and more burdensome,” he said. “We have to deal today with today’s problems, but at the same time, we must continue to conduct research to discover the ultimate solutions.”

To achieve grand outcomes for grand ambitions, Wildenthal stresses the importance of philanthropic support. During his presidency at UT Southwestern, the institution raised some of the largest gifts in the history of academic medicine.

“People want to do good with their resources, and helping them find a path to do so in an area that is meaningful and gratifying to them is a joyful thing to do,” Wildenthal said. “I’m sure that if you ask Callier’s donors and volunteers, they would say that giving their time and money to something so worthwhile is something that truly enriches their own lives, as well as helping others.”

The Callier Cares Luncheon will be held on Thursday, April 20 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Dallas Country Club. To reserve tables and tickets, visit the Callier Cares Luncheon web page.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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