Bryan K. Richmond, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.S., vice-chair and professor of surgery at West Virginia University School of Medicine Charleston campus and section chief of general surgery at Charleston Area Medical Center, has been appointed to an endowed position as the inaugural William J. Maier, Jr. Chair of Research at West Virginia University’s Charleston campus.

Charleston’s Maier Foundation donated $1 million to the research fund, and matching gifts from the West Virginia Research Trust Fund and other sources have created a more than 2.3 million dollar trust to support basic scientific research addressing the health needs of West Virginians, focusing on early detection, improved treatments and technological advances that will ultimately improve outcomes for patients.

Richmond sees his new role as an exciting opportunity to expand research in the region.

“We will be drafting calls for proposals that address many different concerns,” Richmond said.  “One may address projects directed towards the opioid crisis.  Another may be directed towards disparities in all areas of healthcare relating to this region specifically.”  

Dr. Richmond describes West Virginia, with respect to disparities research, as somewhat of a perfect laboratory.  “In our state, you have racial disparities, socioeconomic disparities, rural versus urban disparities, and what you can learn there is of great interest right now both locally and nationally,” Richmond said.   He also plans to explore research projects focused at day-to-day patient care.  “We have a huge community hospital here that has an academic focus, providing primary care as well as tertiary care of patients and the net result is that you have a very diverse patient mix.”

Dr. Richmond also sees the endowment as a means of promoting faculty development in research.  “We can, for example, host research workshops or boot camps that provide higher content than we may have been able to provide before, and if a department wanted to apply for a certain amount of money to send one of their promising investigators to an outcomes research course, that would now be possible,” Richmond said.

The Maier Foundation’s investment in this research chair serves to reinforce the importance of research during a time when the academic community faces budget and federal cuts as well as increasing demands to balance clinical work with publishing and other research activities.

“I think the balance in this healthcare environment that we're in today is increasingly difficult because the time spent doing research is often times at the expense of clinical productivity,” Richmond said.  “Having said that, research is an integral part of training in all of the medical specialties because scholarly activity and learning to perform research and to interpret it is essential in navigating the landscape of medicine, which is constantly changing.”

Richmond sees one of the advantages of the position as the ability to offset some of the expense related to the time spent doing research with actual pilot funding that will support investigators in generating more meaningful projects that can significantly impact patient care and lead to external funding that can then allow the project to be expanded to a much larger scale and have an even greater impact.

The Maier Foundation, and the Maier family, have played a vital role in the establishment and development of the WVU Charleston campus and its educational and research missions. 

The Charleston campus of West Virginia University’s Health Sciences Center was formed in 1972 as part of a federal rural health initiative to expand medical schools beyond the traditional campus. An affiliation with the newly formed Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) to direct CAMC residency programs was also established that year.  The program is now recognized as one of the nation’s oldest regional medical education campuses.

It was the Maier Foundation that provided the primary funding for the WVU Education Building at 3110 MacCorkle Avenue in Charleston in 1977, as well as Dunlop Hall and the Maier Village apartments that house many of the campus’s medical students and residents.

Serving in a position named for the patriarch of the Maier family has a great deal of meaning for Dr. Richmond both professionally and personally.  “In my opinion, serving as the William J. Maier, Jr. Chair of Research increases the prestige factor dramatically and also for me, the sentimental factor, because I was a medical student here at the WVU Charleston campus. I was a resident here at CAMC. I lived in Dunlop Hall and Maier Village. I received the majority of my medical education in this building and all of these were gifts from the Maier family. I'm very, very honored to have this opportunity and I'm looking forward to working with all those here to ensure that the Maier family’s support of research here is well-founded,” Richmond said.

Richmond was recognized for his appointment in a ceremony at the WVU Health Sciences Center by Dr. John C. Linton, Associate Vice President of the WVU Charleston Campus and Dean of the campus’s school of medicine, Dr. Louise Veselicky, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at West Virginia University, Brad Maier Rowe of the Maier Foundation and Dr. Roberto Kusminsky, Chair of the Department of Surgery.

Members of the Maier family and board members of the Maier Foundation, were also in attendance to recognize this important gift to foster research at the WVU Charleston campus.

Bryan K. Richmond, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.S.

Dr. Bryan Richmond’s appointment as research chair is the latest accolade for a faculty member whose leadership skills, professionalism and passion for research serve to inspire students, residents and faculty peers to pursue their research interests and to advance research for the WVU Charleston Campus.

Dr. Richmond joined the WVU School of Medicine, Charleston Campus in 2005. Upon his arrival he was named Section chief - General Surgery Charleston Area Medical Center, Department of Surgery and remains so today.

Graduating Summa cum luade from WVU School of Medicine in Morgantown, West Virginia and holding a MBA - Summa cum laude from WVU, Dr. Richmond completed his residency in General Surgery at WVU Charleston Campus and Charleston Area Medical Center.

Dr. Richmond is well recognized locally and nationally as is evident from his service as a reviewer for multiple surgical journals, his impressive publications and his local and national lectures.  He serves as an example to others who may struggle to balance scholarly work with a busy clinical practice in a non-traditional academic environment.

Richmond’s top priority at WVU Charleston is to help expand the research program to address the health needs of West Virginians.

William J. Maier, Jr. and the Maier Foundation

William J. Maier, Jr. was born into modest means in Clarksburg, West Virginia. While growing up, his mother always stressed the importance of an education. After graduating from Huntington High School at the age of 16, he attended Harvard College on a Price Greenleaf Scholarship. While a junior at Harvard, William was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society and selected as a Rhodes Scholar. At Oxford, he majored in philosophy, politics and economics. After the completion of his studies at Oxford, he returned to Harvard and worked as an economics tutor to pay his way through its law school. He graduated Cum Laude from Harvard Law School in 1928.

After attending college on various scholarships and following his mother’s advice to “do good with all the money you can spare,” William decided to give back. In 1958 he created the Sarah and Pauline Maier Scholarship Foundation, named for his mother and wife. A small board of directors was formed of friends and learned men from West Virginia. One of the original members, Honorable John T. Copenhaver, Jr., still serves on the board.

Edward H. Maier, a son of William, was elected President of the Foundation in December 1976. After William’s death in 1981, Edward was elected as Chairman of the board of directors, the capacity in which he continues to serve today. The current President, Brad Maier Rowe, was elected in December 2010. Brad is one of several members of the third generation of the Maier family serving on the board of directors.

The primary focus of Maier Foundation, Inc. is on the furtherance of higher education in West Virginia and on the higher education of West Virginia residents attending colleges and universities elsewhere.

West Virginia Research Trust Fund

Created by the State of West Virginia as an economic initiative to leverage public and private investments to transform West Virginia’s economy based on a highly skilled and educated workforce, the research trust fund began with an initial appropriation of $50 million. West Virginia University as an institution has had the opportunity to tap into this fund to double private gifts such as the Maier Foundation’s that support expansions to research faculty and infrastructure in key areas linked to economic development, health care and job growth.