Happening Now

Petznick and Stewart families donate generously to MS research

July 2, 2016

Beverly Stewart and the Petznick family continue their generous record of support to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center with a $1.1 million gift establishing an endowed chair position in multiple sclerosis (MS) at Barrow Neurological Institute. The donation mirrors a commitment by the family to improve MS treatments by accelerating research that aims to pinpoint causes for this inflammatory disease.

“Our family has benefited by the care provided here in the past, so this is a gift of gratitude as well as an investment in the future medical care of our community,” says Pat Petznick. “Our hope is that this endowment leads to happier, healthier lives for patients suffering with MS.”

The Beverly Dryer Stewart, Earl A. Petznick, Jr., Olen Jeffrey Petznick Chair of Multiple Sclerosis at Barrow Neurological Institute has been awarded to Mark Agius, MD, whose expertise includes the immune preventive therapy of patients with MS as well as the treatment of other inflammatory disorders of the nervous system.

“I am humbled and deeply grateful to the Petznick and Stewart families for this generous and thoughtful endowment,” says Dr. Agius. “This gift allows Barrow to focus more energy, time and commitment to the care of patients with MS and to further the understanding of this disease.”

MS is a common cause of serious neurological disability in young and middle-aged patients. More than 400,000 Americans are living with the disease, and approximately 10,000 new cases are reported annually. Researchers do not fully understand the causes of MS, but current understanding is that long-term disability may be prevented through early treatment.

“My goals in directing the neuroimmunology division and the Multiple Sclerosis Group at Barrow include improving patient access and education, with emphasis on early effective immune therapies, as well as fostering research into regenerative strategies,” adds Dr. Agius. “There is potential and expectation in the foreseeable future that therapies in neuro-regeneration may allow for recovery of function in patients.”

Throughout their longstanding philanthropic relationship with Barrow and St. Joseph’s, the Petznick and Stewart families have supported numerous areas in need of funding, including spine and brain tumor research, renovation and expansion projects, and advanced patient care offered at The University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s, which opened in August 2015.

“We are very fortunate to have the world-class medical care offered by Barrow and St. Joseph’s right here in Phoenix,” says Petznick. “Our family feels it is a privilege to be able to support it for the benefit of the community.”