$1.5 million gift establishes the Serletti Family Cleft and Craniofacial Humanitarian Outreach Initiative and a future professorship

$1.5 million gift establishes the Serletti Family Cleft and Craniofacial Humanitarian Outreach Initiative and a future professorship

Fund initially supports local and international outreach and advocacy efforts within URMC’s Division of Plastic Surgery

Joseph Serletti ’62M (MD), ’88M (Res) and Bonnie Serletti ’90M (MD), ’94M (Res)

Joseph Serletti ’82M (MD), ’88M (Res) and Bonnie Serletti ’90M (MD), ’94M (Res)

Joseph Serletti ’82M (MD), ’88M (Res) and Bonnie Serletti ’90M (MD), ’94M (Res), recently made a $1.5 million gift to endow the Serletti Family Cleft and Craniofacial Humanitarian Outreach Initiative at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). The Serletti’s generosity will initially support local and international outreach and advocacy efforts of the Pediatric Cleft and Craniofacial Center within URMC’s Division of Plastic Surgery at Golisano Children’s Hospital. In the future, this endowment will fund the Serletti Family Professorship, which will help attract, retain, and honor exemplary faculty clinicians in the plastic surgery division.

Right now, the Serletti Initiative will help support the mission of the Pediatric Cleft and Craniofacial Center including international efforts in South and Central America aimed at sustainable care for children with craniofacial deformities. It will also help fund and expand a camp held every year that brings together local children and families affected by craniofacial conditions.

“Joe’s time at Rochester—as a student, resident, surgeon, and leader—was formative for him, and for us,” says Mark Taubman, CEO, University of Rochester Medical Center and UR Medicine, and dean, School of Medicine and Dentistry. “As our chief of plastic surgery, he played a lead role in establishing the Pediatric Cleft and Craniofacial Center 25 years ago. Since then, the center has treated and helped thousands of children and families. We are grateful to him and Bonnie for choosing us as a beneficiary of their forward-thinking philanthropy.”

“The University of Rochester Medical Center is my home,” says Serletti, the Henry Royster-William Maul Measey Professor of Surgery, chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery, and vice chair for finance in the Department of Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s where Bonnie and I were educated and trained and where I practiced for many years. It was important for me and Bonnie to give back to place that gave us both so much.”

He adds, “I’m proud of the plastic surgery division and the Pediatric Cleft and Craniofacial Center—the work there is being done with the competence, compassion, and deep personal commitment of its leaders and the world-class residents. Our wish is that this gift is a catalyst for continued excellence—the kind that truly helps improve the quality of life for people and recognizes exceptional scholarship and clinical practice in the plastic surgery field.”

“Joe played an instrumental role in setting the course for the plastic surgery division here,” says Howard Langstein, chief, Division of Plastic Surgery, and professor of surgery. “As a world leader in cleft and craniofacial surgery, our health care teams—experts in plastic surgery, dentistry, speech, and other areas—work collaboratively to ensure that a patient’s entire spectrum of needs are met. We’re grateful to Joe and Bonnie for their generosity.”

Adds Clinton Morrison, director, Pediatric Cleft and Craniofacial Center, and associate professor of surgery, “Joe is a visionary—he has always been guided by the biopsychosocial model, which has taught us as clinicians to treat the whole person. His and Bonnie’s generosity will help us continue treat the increasing number of patients we see locally along with those we work with internationally. Their partnership and leadership has and continues to a vital source of support.”

Morrison’s team coordinates a local craniofacial outreach camp program, which has grown exponentially in the past decade. In 2022, the camp welcomed 300 children and families, the largest crowd to date. Morrison also leads the URMC’s participation in international outreach, including an annual medical mission trip to Guatemala coordinated through the Help Us Give Smiles (HUGS) Foundation, a Rochester, NY-based charity that coordinates craniofacial deformity surgeries on children around the world.

“Over many years, Joe has remained a friend and supporter of surgery department and the University,” says David Linehan, the Seymour I. Schwartz Professor of Surgery, and chair of the Department of Surgery. “He is an extraordinarily successful and nationally renowned academic surgeon and leader who never forgot his roots. The support of the Serletti family means the world to me and will help take our world-class Division of Plastic Surgery to new heights.”

Committed to service

Joe Serletti is an expert in breast reconstruction and aesthetic surgery. As a pioneer in the field of free flap autogenous breast reconstruction, he is currently using the most advanced muscle preserving techniques. Serletti is internationally recognized for his work in reconstructive microsurgery, which is used in breast,  head and neck, and extremity reconstruction. He is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

In 1978, Serletti received his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Northwestern University and his medical degree from URMC’s School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD) in 1982, where he also completed his residency in general surgery and plastic surgery. In 1990, he completed a craniofacial fellowship at Johns Hopkins University. From 1990 to 2005, Serletti served in various faculty and surgical positions at URMC. From 1998 through 2005, he was the chair of the plastic surgery division. In 2005, the University of Pennsylvania recruited him as its chief of plastic surgery. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the University’s 2022 Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Bonnie Serletti graduated from SMD in 1990, where she also completed her residency. She practiced obstetrics and gynecology in the Rochester community before moving to Philadelphia and joining the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

Get involved

Contact Valerie Donnelly, Director, Philanthropy Champions and Clinical Advancement, to learn how you help improve the lives of young people with cleft palates and craniofacial disorders.

Kristine Thompson, October 2022