Gastroenterology

Gastroenterology

Physician Named as First Roderick Bell Mathews Endowed Chair

When Children’s Hospital Foundation Board member and former Children’s Hospital Board member Roderick Bell Mathews passed away two years ago, the Foundation established a $1 million permanent endowed chair to support a pediatric gastroenterologist position in his memory. This fall, John E. Fortunato, MD, joined CHoR as the first Roderick Bell Mathews chair.

A graduate of Tufts University School of Medicine, Dr. Fortunato began his training as a general and vascular surgeon before shifting his focus to pediatrics. He completed his pediatric residency with additional training in pediatric gastroenterology (GI) and neurogastroenterology at Johns Hopkins University. This subspecialty allowed him to continue his clinical interest working with the pediatric population, utilize the technical skills he acquired during his surgical residency and work as an academic physician with strong research ties. Dr. Fortunato has been on faculty at Wake Forest University and Children’s Hospital Colorado, published numerous research projects and in 2011, was the first pediatric gastroenterologist to be awarded a grant from the American Heart Association as principal investigator. He has also served for12 years in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

“I believe Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU has an important role to play in the treatment of Richmond’s children,” said Karla Mathews, Rod’s widow and a member of the Foundation’s Senior Board. “If we want our children to have the best care available, then it is important to recruit and support pediatric specialists like Dr. Fortunato.”

Dr. Fortunato’s goals at CHoR include supporting the growth and expansion of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition and partnering with other CHoR specialists to establish new multidisciplinary programs with GI focuses. He said he plans to emphasize family centered patient care and strive to integrate other disciplines into GI subspecialty programs to provide more focused and evidenced-based practice standards.

“I know Rod would be amazed and humbled by the establishment of the endowed chair in his name,” Karla said. “He would have been excited to meet Dr. Fortunato and hear of his plans for the gastroenterology department.”

Pictured above: As the recipient of the Roderick Bell Mathews Endowed Chair, John Fortunato, MD, visited with Karla Mathews, Rod’s widow, during a special reception in October. The endowed chair was established in 2012 to support a pediatric gastroenterologist position at CHoR.

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