As a visionary pioneer in psychiatric medicine, Louis A. Faillace, MD, made contributions to his field that are immeasurable. But for his children, it is his role as a loving, supportive father that has been the most precious.
In gratitude for that gift, his son Anthony Faillace has made another: a $3.5 million gift to The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).
The gift will create three endowed chairs and a scholars program. The department will now bear a new name: the Louis A. Faillace, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.
“The gift supports faculty and research because those are things important to him,” said Anthony Faillace, whose father was the founding chair of the department. “As an academic and a physician treating mental illness, my father has always worked to make the world a better place. As a result, he made me consider what might make others’ lives better.”
A researcher and clinician recognized for his work in the field of alcoholism and behavioral health, the senior Faillace joined McGovern Medical School in 1971 and immediately began building the department.
“Dr. Faillace’s pioneering spirit and history of accomplishment laid the indispensable foundation for the very programs we build upon today. He is a supporter and advocate for mental health care in the Greater Houston community and we are proud that the department will now carry his name,” said Jair Soares, MD, PhD, professor and chair of the Faillace Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Pat R. Rutherford, Jr. Chair in Psychiatry.
Louis Faillace said he made the decision to relocate his family from Baltimore, where he was on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University, to Houston because “this medical school represented an opportunity to build something new.”
He served the university full time for 22 years, playing pivotal roles in UTHealth’s affiliations with the UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center, Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, and Harris Health Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. He also served as interim dean of the medical school from 1984 to 1985. He now serves as professor emeritus.
“Dr. Faillace’s guidance and vision for the department in its early years set the pace for the high distinction we have been able to reach today,” said Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, MD, UTHealth president and Alkek-Williams Distinguished Chair. “This gift will make a meaningful difference in the lives of the families we serve – mirroring the support and advocacy that Dr. Faillace has provided to our community for many years. It also will have an immediate impact on the department, enriching the already strong academic programs and leading to unprecedented research discoveries and treatments.”
The endowed chairs created in Faillace’s name will help recruit and retain faculty who are researching and teaching innovative ways to treat behavioral disorders and promote mental health and well-being, while the Faillace Scholars Fund will award research grants through a competitive process to address the most critical behavioral health challenges.
“Mental health is a hugely important issue that is little understood,” Anthony Faillace said. “It is a health issue on par with heart disease or cancer because mental illness strikes more people at a younger age. There is clearly a big difference between illnesses that occur on average late in life, as opposed to during a person’s prime years. This age gap means many more years of struggle and also, especially for those with more serious mental illness, dramatically lower life expectancy. The goal is to give faculty more resources to do good research in an area that affects so many people.”