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Giving in Action: Eskind Chair to support autism research

Posted by on Friday, March 19, 2021 in Giving in Action, Spring 2021, Vanderbilt Community .

Donna and Jeffrey Eskind, whose generous gifts have advanced Vanderbilt research that is improving lives, have made a new commitment of $2 million to endow a new chair in autism spectrum disorder research in the School of Medicine.

This investment will enable Vanderbilt to recruit or retain a senior expert in an area of research that will help drive innovation for the many individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families.

Initiatives at Vanderbilt focused on autism include the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorder at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and the Frist Center for Autism and Innovation at the School of Engineering.

“Vanderbilt is doing important research related to autism spectrum disorder,” said Jeffrey Eskind, MD, who completed his residency at Vanderbilt in 1980 and now serves as an associate clinical professor of Medicine in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in addition to practicing internal medicine and gastroenterology at the St. Thomas Medical Group. “We want to help advance these critical discoveries, and we are grateful that we can play a small role in making a difference in the many lives that this disorder touches.”

His leadership roles at the University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center include service on the board of the Vanderbilt Medical Alumni Association and past president of the Canby Robinson Society. He has also served on the boards of the Temple Ohabai Sholom and Planned Parenthood of Middle and Eastern Tennessee.

“This gift builds on our family’s longstanding commitment to strengthening our community and our world,” said Donna Eskind. “It is an investment in our collective future.” She is a community volunteer whose service includes chairing of the Kennedy Center Leadership Council and serving on the boards of WPLN Public Radio of Nashville, Alive Hospice, and the advisory board of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Jeffrey Eskind and his brother, Steven J. Eskind, MD, who also completed his medical residency at Vanderbilt, founded the Irwin B. Eskind Symposium on Diabetes Care and Research in their father’s honor prior to his death. Steven Eskind is an assistant professor of Surgery in the School of Medicine.

“This new pledge expands the far-reaching legacy of the Eskind family in the School of Medicine as well as across Vanderbilt’s campus,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Dean of the School of Medicine. “I continue to be thankful for their commitment to Vanderbilt’s tradition of excellence in research and discovery, benefiting many generations to come.”