Keck School professor Vladimir Zelman (left) shares a laugh with philanthropist Guilford Glazer, who donated $100,000 to establish an annual endowed lectureship in Zelman’s honor.
The night before the inaugural Vladimir Zelman Distinguished and Endowed Lectureship on April 28, friends and colleagues gathered at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles to honor Zelman, a clinical professor of anesthesiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Having grown up in Russia, Zelman was lauded for his work “building bridges.”
“Since he came to the United States, Vladimir has been the consummate ambassador between two initially disparate cultures and civilizations,” said Philip Lumb, chair of the Department of Anesthesiology. “And Vladimir continues to create that bridge, to make that alliance, to make that partnership, to make that sensation of oneness more and more effective.”
Real estate developer and philanthropist Guilford Glazer, who along with his wife Diane donated $100,000 to establish the annual lectureship, likewise praised Zelman for his ability to bring people together.
“Good doctors, like Vladimir, have a dual role if they want to accept it. In foreign relations, we’re at war with a big part of the world, and the only people who have the right currency to talk to the other side are the doctors,” said Glazer, who has known Zelman for more than 30 years.
He went on to say that Zelman has brought many Russians to USC for health care, drawing people who otherwise would not come to the United States.
Doctors “can be our best emissaries to our neighbors,” Glazer said. “And Vladimir is one of those fellows. He’s a diplomat.”
Zelman earned his first doctorate in medicine in 1958 at the Novosibirsk Medical Institute in the then-USSR. He earned numerous honors in the USSR and moved to the United States in the mid-1980s.
Zelman often returns to Russia. Just a few days before the dinner, he was in Moscow meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Medvedev’s wife Svetlana, a good friend. Thanks to that relationship, there will soon be a USC-affiliated women’s health program in Russia.
“Bridges, understanding and cooperation is probably one of the important things of today’s international relationships,” Zelman said. “This will make the world safer.”
The people who came to the dinner reflected Zelman’s international prominence. In attendance was Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who has worked with Zelman to reach out to the Russian community in Los Angeles, and Roald Sagdeev, the former director of the USSR’s Space Research Institute, who was crucial in promoting perestroika, the 1980s political movement that helped lead to the end of the Cold War.
Zelman said the Glazers told him they wanted to donate money to USC in his honor and asked him how he wanted to use the gift. He decided a lectureship featuring a world-renowned expert in the neuroscience field would provide the best benefit to students, residents and doctors on the Health Sciences Campus.
The inaugural speaker, James Cottrell, spoke in Aresty Auditorium about fragile and aging brains. Cottrell, the Distinguished Professor and Chairman of the department of anesthesiology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, is a former president of the American Society of Anesthesiology. In 2008, he was awarded the society’s prestigious Distinguished Service Award.
“Dr. Zelman … is so well thought of and he’s contributed so much to the development of our specialty that I was just delighted and honored to be asked to speak,” Cottrell said.