Gift from grateful patients supports research into ovarian and other gynecologic cancers

Oct. 12, 2023
The Setsuko K. Chambers, MD, Endowed Chair will support gynecologic oncology research for years to come.

A $2 million estate gift from Julie Hallquist and Paul Parsons will create the Setsuko K. Chambers, MD, Endowed Chair, a first for the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The namesake of this endowed chair, Setsuko K. Chambers, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the Division of Gynecology Oncology, is a nationally known physician-scientist in gynecologic oncology.

Julie Hallquist and Paul Parsons

“When I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in 2016, I made the decision to be treated by Dr. Chambers in Arizona rather than in Colorado, where we live during the summer,” Hallquist said. “Her credentials were outstanding and my gynecologist in Denver agreed that if it were his wife, she would also be treated in Tucson. The care I got was remarkable. My husband and I were both considered patients as we managed physical and emotional symptoms. I am now in my seventh year of remission.”

“I am humbled and overwhelmed by this honor, a true legacy for me, and at the same time so impressed by Julie and Paul’s immediate grasp of the needs of academic physician-scientists, and, in particular, the need to support women in academics,” Dr. Chambers said.

The overarching vision for this endowment is to strengthen overall support for gynecologic cancers, while leaving a lasting legacy that will sustain the division for years to come.

“Dr. Chambers has consistently built a connection with her patients encompassing mind, body and soul,” said Chaur-Dong Hsu, MD, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “I am delighted the Setsuko K. Chambers, MD, Endowed Chair has been established to recognize her as an excellent physician, researcher and educator. Thank you to these generous donors for acknowledging Dr. Chambers’ compassionate care.”

A commitment to research

The Setsuko K. Chambers, MD, Endowed Chair includes funding for gynecologic cancer research, salary support, and funding for programmatic goals as determined by the division, department and college.

In addition, this endowment is the second to be established within the department in less than two years. In 2022, Dr. Chambers established the Dr. Kenneth D. Hatch Memorial Endowment, and along with the new Setsuko K. Chambers, MD, Endowed Chair, and the Bobbi Olson Endowed Chair in Ovarian Cancer Research at the University of Arizona Cancer Center, for which Dr. Chambers is the inaugural chair, University of Arizona Health Sciences will expand its ability to support gynecologic cancer research and educate the next generation of gynecologic oncologists and researchers.

“As a woman who worked in the corporate world in nontraditional jobs, I have some knowledge of the challenges Dr. Chambers may have faced in her career,” Hallquist said. “Dr. Chambers’ achievements have made a significant impact in hundreds of women’s lives and should not go unrecognized. Creating this endowed chair is one way we can express our gratitude for her hard work and dedication and ensure that her legacy in research and treatment continues.”

Dr. Chambers, the division, the department and the College of Medicine – Tucson are all extremely grateful to longtime donors Hallquist and Parsons for their generous estate gift, which will help to ensure, in perpetuity, that physician-scientists whose passion is both gynecologic cancer research and clinical care will remain a fixture at the College of Medicine – Tucson.

About Dr. Chambers

Dr. Chambers is one of a few gynecologic oncologists elected to the nation’s elite National Academy of Medicine. Previously, she completed her residency and fellowship at Yale University, became that institution’s first female tenured professor in obstetrics and gynecology, and served as director of their Gynecologic Oncology Fellowship Program.

Setsuko K. Chambers, MD

In 2004, she joined the College of Medicine – Tucson as a tenured professor and joined the UArizona Cancer Center, where she created and leads the center’s first centralized biospecimen repository, as well as their multidisciplinary High-Risk Clinic through Banner – University Medicine.

For more than 30 years, spanning her time at Yale University and the College of Medicine – Tucson, Dr. Chambers directed an active basic science laboratory in addition to her clinical responsibilities. In recent years, her focus has been on both translational science and clinical trials by advancing research to expand patients’ options for their clinical care and treatment.

As the division director for more than 15 years, Dr. Chambers knows the importance of supplemental academic and research support to ensure a division remains strong and competitive. She says that having an endowed chair will guarantee those who follow her will have that support in the future.

“My job is to make sure Julie and Paul have many more years together, with their giving me the security that in the future, a special leader for our Division of Gynecologic Oncology will become the inaugural holder of the Setsuko K. Chambers, MD, Endowed Chair,” Dr. Chambers said.

David Bruzzese