Rodes and Patricia Hart establish second chair in Department of Urology

Dr. Melissa R. Kaufman to be inaugural chair holder

Rodes Hart, BA’54, and Patricia Ingram Hart, BA’57, whose generous gifts continue to advance the mission of Vanderbilt as one of the world’s great universities for learning and discovery, have endowed a second chair in urologic surgery.

photo of Dr. Melissa Kaufman in studio
Dr. Melissa R. Kaufman (Vanderbilt University)

Dr. Melissa R. Kaufman, professor of urology and chief of the Division of Reconstructive Urology and Pelvic Health, will be the inaugural holder of this new Patricia and Rodes Hart Chair in Urologic Surgery.

“I am grateful to Patricia and Rodes Hart for their steadfast commitment to Vanderbilt,” said Dr. Jeff Balser, president and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “The Harts’ visionary gifts continue to help attract and retain remarkable leaders whose contributions advance scientific knowledge and clinical care, transforming lives for generations to come.”

Kaufman, who was appointed to the faculty in 2009, was nominated for the chair by Dr. David F. Penson, who holds the Paul V. Hamilton M.D. and Virginia E. Howd Chair in Urologic Oncology. He is also professor of urology and department chair.

“Dr. Kaufman is an internationally known expert in the field of both male and female reconstructive urology, neurology, voiding dysfunction and quality of life interventions for treatment of cancer survivors,” Penson said. “She was one of the early voices in urology to advocate for transitional urology care for children with congenital conditions. She additionally has led transformational research efforts pioneering the application of stem cell technology for treatment of urinary incontinence. Dr. Kaufman is viewed as one of the founders and leaders in this subspecialty area of urology. She is truly one of the best clinicians on our faculty.”

Kaufman has an extensive research portfolio, and currently serves as the global principal investigator for two pivotal clinical trials researching novel innovations in both male and female stress urinary incontinence. She has authored over 130 manuscripts and contributed numerous chapters in influential textbooks on urology.

Penson noted that a large number of urology residents at Vanderbilt have chosen to pursue fellowships in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery because they view her as a role model. She was awarded the McCleery Master Teacher Award in the Vanderbilt Section of Surgical Sciences in 2018.

Kaufman earned her undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis and a doctorate in microbiology and immunology at the University of Tennessee before enrolling at the University of Arkansas College of Medicine, where she earned her medical degree. She came to VUMC in 2002 for a residency in urology. After completing that, she stayed on for a fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. Kaufman joined the School of Medicine faculty in 2009.

Her many honors include the prestigious Zimskind Award in 2017 from the Society of Urodynamics and Female Urology, which is given to its member who has contributed the most to the field within 10 years of completing a fellowship. She also received the Young Urologist of the Year award from the American Urological Association in 2019. She currently serves on the AUA Practice Guidelines Committee and as associate editor of the Journal of Urology.

“Mr. and Mrs. Hart’s gracious philanthropy and personal mentorship will be manifest for many generations,” Kaufman said. “Their thoughtful and prescient generosity will provide hope and dignity to many.”