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PHF Makes Grant to Honor State’s Only Ocular Oncologist

The Presbyterian Health Foundation (PHF) recently made a $50,000 grant to the Dean McGee Eye Institute (DMEI) to help fund an endowed position for Brian K. Firestone, MD, the first and only ocular oncologist in Oklahoma.

Cancer of the eye (ocular cancer) can be a threat to both vision and life. In the past, patients in Oklahoma who were diagnosed with ocular cancer had to leave the state to receive care. That changed in 2014 with the addition of Brian K. Firestone, MD to the faculty at the DMEI/University of Oklahoma (OU) Department of Ophthalmology.


During his tenure at DMEI/OU, Dr. Firestone has treated more than 1,200 cancer patients. He has done so with compassion and clinical and surgical excellence. His dedication was recently recognized by the OU College of Medicine with the 2024 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. This award is given in recognition of demonstrated excellence in promoting scholarship, and encouraging high standards of character and integrity. It recognizes a dedicated commitment to compassionate care of patients, and to the art and science of medical practice.


Within an academic setting such as DMEI/OU, endowed positions are important tools for retaining top-quality faculty.  Holding an endowed position is a distinction that demonstrates a faculty member has performed at the highest level.  In addition to this public recognition of excellence, interest earned on the endowment funds provides financial support for faculty members as they pursue educational, academic, scholarly, and service activities.


To honor Dr. Firestone and help retain him in Oklahoma, DMEI worked to raise at least $535,000 to create an endowed position. The grant from PHF helped close out the campaign.


“We are extremely grateful to PHF for its support of this initiative,” states DMEI chief executive officer, R. Michael Siatkowski, MD, MBA. “As the competition for talent in academic ophthalmology increases, endowed positions are critical to our efforts to support and retain our brightest and most committed faculty, such as Dr. Firestone.”


“Providing support for Dr. Firestone is not just an investment in the present, but also in the future of medical care in our state,” said Rick McCune, PHF President. “This grant to support his important work will ensure that Oklahoma remains at the forefront of clinical research and treatment in ophthalmology, ultimately benefiting patients of all ages for years to come."


“I am truly humbled by the generosity of PHF and other donors who made this endowed position possible,” says Dr. Firestone. “It will allow me to continue treating patients, grow in my knowledge and skills, publish research findings, and educate the next generation of ophthalmologists so as to improve cancer care in Oklahoma.”


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