William C. “Bill” Culp, M.D., of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has become the first recipient of the Jonathan S. Fitch Distinguished Chair in Stroke and Neurocritical Care.
Culp was invested with the chair in a ceremony Jan. 19 at UAMS. The endowed chair is named for former state lawmaker Jonathan Stuart Fitch, of Hindsville, who died from a stroke in 2011 at age 60.
Fitch served for 24 years in the Arkansas Legislature – six in the House and 18 years in the Senate – after which he served for several years as director of the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission. He was a leading supporter of UAMS in the Legislature, especially in clinical research.
Culp is a professor of radiology, surgery and neurology. Since 2012, he also has served as vice chair for radiology research. He has many years of clinical experience and experience in developing new stroke therapies as well as studying stroke treatments, including interventional radiology.
“My UAMS colleagues and I are here to find a cure for stroke and deliver it,” Culp said. “We must not ever quit looking for better ways to prevent stroke while at the same time we search for improved therapies. In the last two years we have made great improvements in therapy, but about 800,000 people every year in the United States have a stroke. Their needs are always foremost on our minds.”
An endowed chair is the highest academic honor a university can bestow on its faculty. A chair can honor the memory of a loved one or may honor a person’s accomplishments. A distinguished chair is supported with donations of $1.5 million or more, with the chair holder using the interest proceeds for research, teaching or service activities.
In 2011, the office of then-Attorney General Dustin McDaniel provided the initial funding for the Fitch chair from a legal settlement with a pharmaceutical company.
Following the initial endowment, members of the Fitch Family, friends and supporters provided additional funds to support the chair.
Speakers at the investiture included UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D.; UAMS College of Medicine Dean Pope L. Moseley, M.D.; and Culp’s daughter and son, respectively — Jennifer Bianchi, D.V.M., CEO of White Oaks Veterinary Clinic Inc. in Edmonds, Oklahoma; and William C. Culp Jr., M.D., professor of anesthesiology at Texas A & M University.
Other speakers included Richard H. Turnage, M.D., UAMS College of Medicine executive associate dean for clinical sciences; attorney Bob Edwards; former State Sen. Tom Kennedy; former Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel; James McDonald, M.D., interim chair of the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Radiology; Timothy C. McCowan, M.D., radiology chair and professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Former Gov. Mike Beebe spoke later in the evening at a dinner celebrating the investiture.
Culp is a 1967 graduate of the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine. He completed his residency in diagnostic radiology at the University of Texas Medical Branch and continued his training with a fellowship in interventional radiology at the University of Nebraska.
Before joining the UAMS faculty in 2001, he practiced in Fort Smith as well as at the University of Florida and the University of Nebraska.
With colleague Robert Skinner, Ph. D., Culp is patron co-founder of the Fund to Cure Stroke, which supports diverse stroke-related research. He also facilitates high-quality studies in many areas, including his primary focus of stroke and new approaches to stroke treatment. He holds two patents involving innovative stroke therapies, and a third patent is pending.