Feb. 18, 2021 — When Lou Oberndorf reflects on his time at UF Health Shands Hospital being cared for by Li-Ming Su, M.D., professor and chair of the UF Department of Urology, the word “miracle” comes to mind.
“Three years ago, we confirmed I had prostate cancer,” says Oberndorf, CEO and chair of Operative Experience Inc., a Maryland-based company that creates high-fidelity simulators for use in medical education. “Dr. Su performed my prostate surgery. Thank God, as of today, the surgery was a complete success. I describe Dr. Su as someone who saved my life.”
Oberndorf’s experiences inspired him and his wife, Rosemary, to establish The Lou and Rosemary Oberndorf Prostate Cancer Innovation Fund, which will support the addition of a new faculty member, Wayne Brisbayne, M.D., in the UF Department of Urology and increased research on new diagnostic imaging and therapeutic techniques in the fight against prostate cancer. Brisbayne, who is completing a urologic oncology fellowship at UCLA, will join the department in August.
“My wife and I are committed to supporting the UF Department of Urology and Dr. Su’s research objectives,” says Oberndorf, who has a long tradition of supporting UF through philanthropy and volunteer service. He currently sits on the UF Foundation Executive Board, the Gator Boosters board and the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Leadership Council.
Oberndorf says his most recent gift to UF is aimed at keeping the department of urology at the forefront of prostate cancer research.
“Dr. Su is extraordinarily well-known on a national scale for his use of robotic surgical techniques in the field of prostate cancer, and he is a thought leader at the College of Medicine,” he says.
Dr. Su’s team, with the addition of Brisbayne, plans to investigate emerging techniques like focal therapy in conjunction with multiparametric MRI and micro-ultrasound diagnostic imaging aimed at improving diagnosis and management of prostate cancer.
“If we’re able to find a small-volume cancer within a prostate, then instead of treating the entire prostate with surgery or radiation, perhaps just treatment of the tumor alone with focal therapy may provide curative treatment and avoid unwanted side effects from whole-organ treatment,” Su says. “We currently use MRI technology to guide our prostate biopsies for improved accuracy of detecting cancer. The preliminary research by Brisbayne using micro-ultrasound shows great promise in further improving the sensitivity and specificity — even beyond MRI — in identifying cancer within the prostate.”
Su says the Oberndorfs’ gift will also help fund resident education, including robotic surgical and prostate biopsy simulation. Passionate about using the latest technology and research to develop and hone new techniques for medical education and patient care, the Oberndorfs have consistently supported important resources at the UF College of Medicine over the years that integrate technology into the medical curriculum.
In 2010, the Lou Oberndorf Professorship in Health Care Technology was established through a gift from the Lou and Rosemary Oberndorf Charitable Fund. When the George T. Harrell, M.D., Medical Education Building opened on the UF Health campus in 2015, it debuted the Louis H. Oberndorf Experiential Learning Theater, a state-of-the-art space housing several human patient simulators that allow students to receive high-stakes patient care training in a low-risk environment.
“What’s unique about Lou Oberndorf is he has a long history of interest in new technologies, specifically simulation,” Su says. “Innovative and new technologies that can shape patient care in the future resonates with him on a personal level.
“A gift like this from a grateful patient and their loved one like Lou and Rosemary Oberndorf is extremely meaningful and purposeful, as it is based on the donor’s specific interests. It helps galvanize the relationship between researcher and donor, giving them an opportunity to work together to achieve new discoveries that may help benefit patients in the future.”