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Dr. Henry Saphier: Lifelong Commitment to NYMC is Labor of Love

$100,000 Gift will Support Important COVID-19 Research

  Henry Saphier
  Henry Saphier, M.D., ’61

For Henry Saphier, M.D., ’61, his commitment to New York Medical College (NYMC) is a “labor of love” that began at birth and has spanned his entire life. Dr. Saphier was born in 1935 at Flower Free Surgical Hospital, which was built by NYMC as the first teaching hospital in the country to be owned by a medical college. The obstetrician that delivered him was Carl Salzman, M.D., a member of the NYMC Class of 1924.

Dr. Saphier would later follow in his godfather’s footsteps as both a physician and an obstetrician. After graduating from NYMC in 1961 and doing his residency there, he also served on the staff of both Flower and Fifth Avenue Hospitals and Metropolitan Hospital. (NYMC, including Flower Hospital, merged with Fifth Avenue Hospital in 1938 to become New York Medical College, Flower and Fifth Avenue Hospitals). His brother, Albert Saphier, M.D., ’65, and son Douglas Saphier, M.D., ’10, are also NYMC graduates.

Dr. Saphier’s parents were founding members of the original Parents’ Association and of the 400 Club, which was the beginning of gift giving at the College. As a member of the Alumni Association since 1968, he has served on the Board of Governors and is a past president.

“Supporting NYMC is a labor of love, a labor of commitment, a labor of trust that the College had in us as a family and as students,” says Dr. Saphier. “And it’s a family tradition that spans multiple generations.”

That family tradition has also led to considerable philanthropic support, including in 2018 the establishment of the Saphier Family Translational Science Fund for the School of Medicine to provide immediate vital and critical resources. Most recently, a gift of $100,000 from the fund will be used to support important research now underway at NYMC to validate a novel rapid diagnostic approach to track the presence of SARS-CoV-2 and diagnose COVID-19 using a colorimetric reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) that will provide accurate detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA within 30 minutes.

“We are deeply grateful to Dr. Henry Saphier and the Saphier family for their long-standing and generous support of NYMC and the School of Medicine and especially for this gift that will support very important research into new ways to assist in the rapid testing for COVID-19,” says Jerry Nadler, M.D., SOM dean. “With the lamp assay already showing promise to be effective on nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs, testing on saliva samples is now being done. This will allow for further scaling up and for the potential development of an at-home testing kit. This gift is integral in allowing us to move forward with this collaborative work.”

“NYMC is part of this large initiative to help solve the testing crisis we are still grappling within the midst of this devastating pandemic,” says Ebrahim Afshinnekoo, SOM Class of 2021, who is leading the coordination of the project over several different clinical sites. “My hope is for the LAMP assay to be a test available to students, faculty, and staff and eventually available to the health care workers and patients we serve across our various clinical sites. I would like to thank Dr. Saphier and the Saphier family for their generous donation and help in making this research possible.” 

“NYMC has a long history of being pioneers in research and innovation. It is our hope that this fund will play an integral role in the College’s future scientific and clinical research discoveries,” says Dr. Saphier. “NYMC is ingrained in our family’s history. We have a vested interest in the buildings, the curriculum and the spirit of NYMC, and have a burning spirit to ensure that the College continues on in its primary mission to educate young doctors. It's quite a legacy.”