Saha Legacy Continues With Establishment of Aortic Research Center at UK

Image of four doctors standing outside
image of Saha family standing outside

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 2, 2022) — On Monday, May 25, the faculty and administration of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine announced the creation of the Saha Aortic Center, a new research center focused on aortic disease. This new center was established thanks to a generous $1 million gift from the Saha Foundation.

Housed in the Biomedical Biological Science Research Building on the UK campus, the Saha Aortic Center will promote research and education to advance clinical care for disease of the aorta. Aortic disease can cause the expansion and rupture of a vessel wall in the chest or abdominal area, leading to potentially deadly internal bleeding.

Alan Daugherty, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Physiology and director of the Saha Cardiovascular Research Center in the UK College of Medicine, will serve as director of the Saha Aortic Center.

“Aortic disease affects the major artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body,” Daugherty said. “Having this center that specifically focuses on research and education in this field is vital.”

David Minion, M.D., program director and UK College of Medicine professor of surgery, and Mary Sheppard, M.D., assistant professor of family and community medicine, surgery and physiology in the UK College of Medicine, will serve as co-directors for the center.

“Dr. Saha has devoted a lifetime of service to the health care needs of Kentucky. The generous gift attests to his and his family’s passion and dedication to our Commonwealth,” Minion said. “I am honored to be a part of this exciting initiative.”

Sheppard founded the UK Aortic Clinic and performs NIH-funded research on Marfan syndrome and genetically based aortic disease. She works closely with vascular surgeons to provide a transdisciplinary team approach for managing patient’s aortic disease.

“This donation from the Saha Foundation is a tremendous gift to the people of Kentucky, as they will not need to leave the state to access the most cutting-edge care for aortic disease,” Sheppard said. “We have one of the largest groups of basic scientists in the world who do research on aortic disease. By facilitating collaboration with our physicians, this gift will position UK to be a premier center for the treatment of people with aortic disease throughout the world.”

The Saha Foundation was established in 1999 by Sibu and Becky Saha. Its mission is to promote research and education of cardiovascular disease in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The foundation offers many awards and scholarships to scientists, medical students, nurses and other health professionals. A previous gift from the Sahas established the Saha Cardiovascular Research Center.

The couple have considered Lexington home for more than 40 years and remain steadfast in their community involvement and generous philanthropy. Following a distinguished career in private practice, Saha joined the faculty of the UK College of Medicine in 2002 as a professor of surgery in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Becky is past president of Friends of the Arboretum. During her tenure as president, Friends of the Arboretum launched a major campaign to establish the Kentucky Children’s Garden, which opened in 2011.

The couple’s daughter, Rani Saha, became president of the Saha Foundation in 2020. Currently, she works in New York City as a motion graphics designer and artist alongside many Fortune 500 companies, post-production and design houses, as well as digital agencies.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.