CHRISTUS Children’s Foundation and CHRISTUS Children’s hosted an investiture ceremony to celebrate the appointment of Dr. Melissa Svoboda as chair of the Gary Dudley and Charlie Amato Endowed Chair in Pediatric Neurology.
This honor will help Svoboda advance education, research and clinical care in pediatric neurology. Svoboda serves as section chief of pediatric neurology at CHRISTUS Children’s, professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and medical director for the comprehensive autism and spinal muscular atrophy programs at CHRISTUS Children’s. She is board-certified and recognized for her exceptional expertise in neurodevelopmental disabilities.
“Dr. Svoboda’s ongoing dedication to research in pediatric neurology underscores her commitment to advancing medical knowledge and improving the lives of her patients, both locally and worldwide,” said Terry L. Kyle, president of CHRISTUS Children’s Foundation. “We’re honored to recognize her with an endowed chair to help further her impact and grateful for our generous donors at the SWBC Foundation for making this possible.”
The SWBC Foundation donated $2 million for the creation and appointment of an endowed chair in 2014 named for Gary Dudley and Charlie Amato, co-founders of SWBC.
Svoboda earned her medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, where she also completed her pediatrics residency. She completed a predoctoral fellowship at Kennedy Krieger Institute/Johns Hopkins University, focusing on autism research. She further specialized in child neurology and neurodevelopmental disabilities through a fellowship at Oregon Health and Science University.
One of her biggest accomplishments includes co-founding the Comprehensive Autism Program at CHRISTUS Children’s. The program has evolved into the preeminent autism clinic in San Antonio, providing high-quality multidisciplinary evaluations and comprehensive medication management. Svoboda’s commitment to providing the best care for her patients is further evident through her co-founding of the San Antonio Applied Behavioral Analysis Consortium, a pioneering collaboration between CHRISTUS Children’s, The University of Texas at San Antonio and the Autism Treatment Center. This partnership offers essential behavioral treatment to children with autism while actively contributing to ongoing research in the field.
Notably, Svoboda was the first physician in South Texas to administer a life-saving gene therapy to children with spinal muscular atrophy and expanded the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Program at CHRISTUS Children’s internationally to allow children from other countries access to the treatment.
The SWBC Foundation seeks to identify and fund organizations that are making a positive difference in the lives of others and enhancing the quality of life in the communities where SWBC’s employees live and work.
SWBC President Gary Dudley and Chairman Charlie Amato formed SWBC in 1976 with $1,500 of starting capital. Today, SWBC is an international financial services company, providing products and services to help businesses, families and financial institutions meet some of their most critical goals. For nearly four decades, Dudley has been instrumental in developing SWBC’s business model and dedication to customer service.
Amato is known in the business community for his innovative, relationship-building approach that is based on nearly 40 years of experience in all aspects of insurance operations, underwriting and product development. Throughout his career, he has received multiple awards and recognition for his work in the community. He continues to be an active participant in various charities and corporate leadership activities.
Endowed chairs recognize and foster excellence among medical professionals who are leaders in their field. Clinical, research and educational opportunities for the recipient and the department they represent are supported through the earnings of a permanent fund. CHRISTUS Children’s has eight endowed chairs.
Photo Captions: Photo 1: Dr. Melissa Svoboda, chair holder of the Gary Dudley and Charlie Amato Endowed Chair in Pediatric Neurology
Photo 2: Gary Dudley, SWBC President, and Dr. Melissa Svoboda