Anita Bhatia on Why her Family’s Foundation Supports Recruiting the ‘Best and Brightest’ to UT Southwestern
President’s Advisory Board member shares how the Medical Center has made a difference for those she cares about
By ANDREW MARTON | February 15, 2023
The proud daughter of Indian immigrants, Anita Bhatia, M.H.A., dreamed from an early age of becoming a doctor.
Anita Bhatia with her daughter, Anya SmithProvided by Anita BhatiaGrowing up in Dallas, her dreams evolved, but her passion for health care never changed. Today, as Executive Director of her family’s eponymous foundation, she continues to volunteer her leadership and marketing experience with UT Southwestern Medical Center’s President’s Advisory Board. The group provides President Daniel K. Podolsky, M.D., and the institution’s leadership with guidance on opportunities and challenges facing the medical center.
Reflecting on the exceptional care her family has received at the Medical Center, Ms. Bhatia recently shared how collaboration and a passion for brain research set the institution apart.
Anita Bhatia with her daughter Anya Smith
How has UT Southwestern impacted you and your family?
As long time Dallas residents, we have always known of the extraordinary patient care and clinical research taking place at UT Southwestern. However, it wasn’t until 2020 when our family experienced firsthand the excellence and compassion of the UT Southwestern team.
My father, Ramesh Bhatia, who founded The Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation, suffered a transient ischemic attack or minor stroke. He was taken to UT Southwestern’s emergency department and transferred to the stroke center where he stayed for two days. As a family, we were so impressed with the hospital. From admission to treatment and beyond, the incredible nurses, physicians, and support staff made us feel like we were in the best hands possible. We were so grateful for the care my father received that we arranged a thank you luncheon for the staff on the floor.
UT Southwestern President Daniel K. Podolsky, M.D., left, poses for a photo with the Bhatia family, including, left to right, Niraj Bhatia, Kalpana Bhatia, Ramesh Bhatia, and Anita Bhatia, inside The Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation Atrium in William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital in October of 2022. The atrium was named in recognition of a gift from the family. Eddie Marak/UT Southwestern Medical Center
What distinguishes this institution as a national leader in academic medicine?
UT Southwestern’s distinguished level of intellectual talent led my family to support further faculty growth by establishing the Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation Distinguished University Chair in Brain Science. As Dallas continues to grow, we look forward to welcoming the best and brightest minds from around the world.
UT Southwestern Assistant Professor of Neurology Samuel Pappas, Ph.D., left, gives a tour of a research lab located in the third tower of William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital to Anita Bhatia, center, and her mother, Kalpana Bhatia, in October of 2022. Eddie Marak/UT Southwestern Medical Center
What have you learned about UT Southwestern?
What I find truly incredible is the collaboration between departments. When departments, facilities, and organizations within the same health system work in silos, it can hinder forward-thinking and swift action. But collaboration is an area of strength at UT Southwestern.
The response during the COVID-19 pandemic was a prime example of how various areas can come together for one goal. Clinicians worked with researchers; nurses partnered with environmental services; and marketing supported all departments to communicate internally and externally. As the saying goes, “It takes a village,” and UT Southwestern exemplifies that sentiment.
Located on UT Southwestern’s North Campus, the nine-story Peter O’Donnell Jr. Biomedical Research Building opened in October of 2022. The facility is the new home of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute. Mei-Chun Jau/UT Southwestern Medical Center
As a donor, why do you continue to give?
For us, the opening of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute is a game-changer. As the mother of a daughter who had brain surgery at 18 months old, I am extremely passionate about finding and funding the latest research and treatments that address the devastating toll of brain diseases. The innovative discoveries at UT Southwestern – such as gene editing, biomarker analysis, and other advanced technologies to understand better, treat, cure, and prevent a wide range of neurological and brain disorders – is exactly what families like mine need.
What is UT Southwestern’s biggest contribution to the community?
One of the primary reasons UT Southwestern is a “Hall of Famer” in the health care space is because of their dedicated commitment to scientific and medical research. It is because of investigations and breakthroughs in the fields of cancer, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and stroke that UT Southwestern has opened doors to new treatment options and preventative care.
Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.