Volume 4 | Issue 1
Spring 2012

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Dr. Hugh A. “Chip” McAllister brings art and science together

By Hope Baptiste


Hugh A. “Chip” McAllister donated this statue, “Next Generation II,” to the Ackland Art Museum in honor of his father. Installed at the entrance to UNC Hospitals, the piece was unveiled at an April 12 celebration of McAllister’s $10 million commitment to the museum and the School of Medicine.

Steve Exum

A flawless Carolina blue sky and enthusiastic applause greeted UNC School of Medicine alumnus Hugh A. “Chip” McAllister Jr. (M.D. ’66) of Houston, Texas, as he stepped to the podium in front of the N.C. Cancer Hospital on April 12.

Video monitors displayed a slideshow of remarkable art works, and signature blue and white balloons festooned the dais, nearby tables and a platform in front of the UNC Children’s Hospital entrance where a large object was waiting to be unveiled.

The event announced McAllister’s commitment of $10 million to the University that includes a collection of nearly 50 works of art for the Ackland Art Museum’s permanent collection as well as funds to expand an endowment dedicated to heart disease research at the School of Medicine.

As one of the most prominent cardiac pathologists in the United States during his career (he is retired), McAllister is accustomed to accomplishments, but is not one for public accolades. For him, it is all about the work and the difference he can make.

His brief remarks to those assembled revealed a deep and abiding affinity for his school and his home state, though he’d spent most of his professional life elsewhere.

“It’s great to come back home. I deeply admire and respect Carolina, and I’m happy to be able to support its extraordinary mission to serve the people of North Carolina,” McAllister said. “Being able to share my love of American art while simultaneously helping to eradicate the most deadly disease in the U.S. fulfills a dream for me.”

For the University, his generosity will enrich the cultural landscape and advance the frontiers of science. “This gift will transform our teaching, research and public service in multiple ways,” said Chancellor Holden Thorp. “It provides a new educational experience for our students and the entire community through some of the best examples available of American art and contemporary sculpture.

“Equally important, the gift will support the groundbreaking and life-saving cardiovascular research conducted by our faculty in the School of Medicine.”

In all, McAllister’s commitment will include more than 150 paintings, sculptures and artifacts. The portion benefitting the Ackland Art Museum—valued at $5.5 million—is the single largest gift of art in the museum’s history. Pieces not going to the Ackland will be sold, with the proceeds—$2.5 million—going to expand an existing endowment supporting the UNC McAllister Heart Institute (MHI) and early career cardiovascular medicine researchers.

McAllister also is committing $2 million to support the institute. He has now contributed more than $18 million to the University over the past 15 years, primarily to the MHI.

“Chip is a great friend of the School of Medicine who deeply believes in and supports our faculty and students as they explore and discover treatments and cures for heart disease,” said Dr. William L. Roper, dean of the School of Medicine and CEO of UNC Health Care. “What is remarkable about this gift is that it will ensure the preservation of and accessibility to great American art, while also bettering the health of our citizens here in North Carolina and beyond.”


“Next Generation II” stands at the entrance to UNC Hospitals and is one of a select number of pieces to be installed on the UNC campus.

Steve Exum

The Ackland will add signature works by 19th-century painters, examples by members of the Taos School and contemporary sculpture as well as several examples of American Indian pottery and textiles to its collection.

“This art will add important breadth to our American collection, particularly in the area of art depicting the west and southwestern United States,” said Emily Kass, museum director. “These works offer students, alumni, faculty, researchers and visitors a new and profound experience of American art at the Ackland.”

It was fitting, then, to unveil and dedicate a signature piece that had been installed on the hospital grounds. McAllister and the group gathered at the covered platform, and he stepped to the microphone.

“I’m told—” he began as the tarp was removed to reveal the large bronze statue, then added, “but with abstract art you never know—the larger figure is the father, and the smaller is the child. Information is being passed from one to the other.”

The description was fitting as well. McAllister donated the piece, “Next Generation II” by Allan Houser, in honor of his father, Dr. Hugh McAllister Sr., who graduated from UNC’s School of Medicine in 1935 and practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Lumberton, N.C., for decades.

Both father and son made significant contributions to and advances in their respective specialties, and lent their talents and leadership to fostering the next generation of practitioners and scientists.

Their distinguished service earned them the distinction of being the only father and son to serve as presidents of the UNC Medical Alumni Association and to receive the School of Medicine’s Distinguished Medical Alumni Award.

About Chip McAllister

After graduating from Davidson College, McAllister completed medical school at UNC in 1966 and then began an illustrious military career as an intern at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. After training at the Armed Services Institute of Pathology, he served as the institute’s chair of cardiac pathology until his retirement at the rank of colonel in 1984.

McAllister then joined the Texas Heart Institute in Houston as the founding chair of the Department of Cardiac Pathology and served until his retirement in 2000. To recognize his many contributions to cardiovascular medicine and to the University, the UNC McAllister Heart Institute was named in his honor in 2009.

About the McAllister Heart Institute

The MHI provides a world-class environment for basic, preclinical and applied cardiovascular research that attracts more than $15 million annually in research funding. Executive Director Dr. Cam Patterson has led the institute since 2000 and has more than 120 publications to his credit. Patterson is a member of several editorial boards, including “Circulation” and the “Journal of Clinical Investigation.” He received the 2012 Judah Folkman Award for outstanding contributions from vascular biologists. In addition to his role at the McAllister institute, Patterson is chief of the division of cardiology, physician-in-chief of the Center for Heart and Vascular Care and associate dean for health care entrepreneurship. He received his M.B.A. from the Kenan-Flagler Business School in 2008.

Researchers in more than 45 labs at the MHI work in areas such as blood vessel formation, cardiac stem cells, genetics, blood clotting and metabolism to advance the care of patients with diseases of the heart, blood and circulation. The MHI has grown by 17 labs in the past year. Investigators include Dr. Arjun Deb, the first UNC winner of the prestigious Katz Basic Science Research Award of the American Heart Association; Dr. Nigel Mackman, director, the recipient of the highest honor from the American Heart Association for research in arteriosclerosis, thrombosis and vascular biology; and Dr. Marschall Runge, executive dean of the School of Medicine and medicine department chair who won the 2010 Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award from the American College of Cardiology.

About the Ackland Art Museum

The Ackland Art Museum, an academic unit, serves broad local, state and national constituencies. The museum’s permanent collection consists of more than 16,000 works of art, featuring North Carolina’s premier collections of Asian art and works of art on paper (drawings, prints and photographs), as well as significant collections of European masterworks, 20th-century and contemporary art, African art and North Carolina pottery. The Ackland organizes more than a dozen special exhibitions a year.