LAWRENCE— A gift commitment from longtime faculty member Dr. Dennis Diederich and his wife, Alice Diederich, will provide $1 million to endow a professorship at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas.
The Diederichs, both KU alumni who live in Overland Park, established the fund to support the professorship in the Nephrology and Hypertension Division of the Department of Internal Medicine within the KU School of Medicine. The professorship will be awarded to a faculty member specializing in nephrology or renal transplantation.
Dr. Alan Yu, director of the Kidney Institute at KU Medical Center, expressed his gratitude for the gift and the positive effect it will have on the study of nephrology at KU.
“We are incredibly grateful for this generous gift from the Diederich family,” Yu said. “The professorship it establishes will allow us to recruit leaders in the field of nephrology and kidney transplantation — clinicians, educators and scientists who can advance the care of patients with kidney disease and inspire the next generation of nephrology trainees.”
The Diederich family has deep roots in the KU Medical Center community. The fund, named the Benedict Diederich Family Professorship, honors Dennis Diederich’s father, Benedict, who lived in Greenleaf until his death in 1991. Benedict and his wife, Vivian Diederich, had 10 children. Two of the three sons became physicians, and six of the seven daughters became nurses. The family worked hard to make sure that all the children went to college.
Dennis Diederich said that his family’s dedication to his and his siblings’ educations is the inspiration behind the gift.
“I figured that it was only appropriate that later in life if I could recognize the important role the family had in my career, I would,” Dennis Diederich said. “The professorship is named for my father but also honors my mother and siblings, recognizing that they all contributed to my education.”
Dennis isn’t the only Diederich family member with ties to KU Medical Center. His brother Dr. Paul Diederich, an internist, is an alumnus of KU Medical Center. Paul’s daughter Dr. Emily Diederich is the director of the Zamierowski Institute for Experiential Learning at KU Medical Center. She holds the David S. Zamierowski, M.D., Directorship of Simulation at ZIEL.
Dennis and Alice were married in 1959 while he was in medical school at St. Louis University, and he completed his internal medicine residency at KU Medical Center in 1965. Alice was a research assistant in St. Louis before taking a research position at KU Medical Center.
Dennis joined the Nephrology Division in the Department of Internal Medicine in 1969, when the kidney transplantation program first began at KU Medical Center, and he was instrumental in building the program. He retired in March 2017 and is now a professor emeritus at the Kidney Institute at KU Medical Center.
“I devoted myself 1,000 percent to the cause of kidney transplantation,” he said. “I’ve been surrounded by great people my entire career, and Dr. Yu is a wonderful mentor who will choose the right person for this professorship.”
KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.
Photo: Benedict and Vivian Diederich.