Arming the brilliant minds in our backyard

Stephanie Harris
Stephanie Harris

When Stephanie Harris’s mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she searched the world for the number one mind specializing in that area. It just so happened that that person was Diane Yamada, MD, Joseph Bolivar DeLee Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and chief of the Section of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Chicago Medicine.

“I find more often than not when people call me looking for a great mind in cancer, that person sits right here in our backyard at the University of Chicago, which is amazing,” Stephanie said.

In 2013, Stephanie and her husband, John, established an ovarian cancer research fund at UChicago Medicine. Since its creation, the fund has helped advance our understanding of the origins of ovarian cancer, while also laying the groundwork for new treatments.

A University of Chicago Medical Center Trustee, Stephanie compares investing in physician-scientists like Dr. Yamada to venture capital.

“If someone like Dr. Yamada has a hunch about a treatment for cancer, you throw whatever you can behind it,” she explained. “It’s like investing in the great CEO. You’re not investing blindly in an institution. You’re investing in a great mind, and that’s a worthwhile investment.”

Stephanie finds her role on the Medical Center Board to be incredibly exciting. “We have a front-row seat to some of the most leading-edge medicine and discussions about the future of medicine,” she said.

“We are arming our brilliant minds, our doctors, with the ability to explore ideas much faster than they’ve been able to in the past,” she added. “The pace of discovery is speeding up, and to have the whole University and all of its resources behind you is exciting.”

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