General News | Giving Stories | Veterinary Clinical Medicine

Khan Family Chair Investiture: Meet Our Donors, Recipients

Photo of Alma Mater statue with the word Investiture

The University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine will host the Khan Family Chair Investiture on Tuesday, August 13. A chair is the highest named faculty appointment title at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, signifying excellence and prominence in scholarly endeavors, including research, teaching, and service.

Following the information about the Khan family are highlights of the careers of Dr. Laura D. Garrett, Inaugural Khan Family Chair in Veterinary Clinical Oncology, and Dr. Timothy M. Fan, Inaugural Khan Family Chair in Veterinary Oncology Research.

Our Donors: Ann and Shahid Khan holding dog Louie, Shanna holding dog Shanelle, with Dr. Laura Garrett
Ann and Shahid Khan holding Louie, Shanna holding Shanelle, and Dr. Laura Garrett visiting the Khans at home.

Our Donor: The Khan Family

Shahid Khan arrived alone from Pakistan in 1967 at age 16 to study at the University of Illinois. With a B.S. in industrial engineering in 1971, Khan quickly ascended to engineering manager at Flex-N-Gate, at that time a small automotive parts manufacturer in Urbana, Illinois.

In 1978, with $13,000 in savings and $50,000 from the Small Business Loan Corporation, he left to create the start-up Bumper Works, which revolutionized manufacturing through an innovative one-piece bumper design that remains the industry standard.

When Flex-N-Gate came on the market two years later, Khan purchased his former employer, brought Bumper Works into the fold and built Flex-N-Gate into the global leader it is today.

In 2022, Shahid, his wife Ann Margaret Khan, and their children Tony and Shanna made a transformational gift to the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

The Khans’ dogs, Louie and Shanelle, both received cancer treatment there. Over the course of their own pets’ care, the family was impressed by the staff’s commitment to the well-being of all animals. They learned of opportunities to extend that remarkable service and care to other families and their pets with cancer.

By establishing three named chair positions, the Khans — all proud graduates of the University of Illinois — wanted to attract the best and brightest veterinary cancer specialists and students to their beloved alma mater.

Their $15 million gift establishes chairs for an oncologic surgeon, a medical oncologist focused on patient care, and a medical oncologist focused on translational medicine to advance cancer treatment. It also allocates much-needed funds to support additional nursing staff for the oncology service.

The Khans’ tremendous generosity, combined with a dollar-for-dollar capital match from the U. of I., stands as the largest philanthropic investment ever received by the College of Veterinary Medicine. The match funds a new oncology wing for the college’s hospital, slated to open in 2025.

Dr. Laura D. Garrett

Inaugural Khan Family Chair in Veterinary Clinical Oncology

Dr. Laura D. Garrett
Inaugural Khan Family Chair in Veterinary Clinical Oncology

Since 2006 when she arrived as a faculty member, Dr. Laura Garrett has played an integral role in the growth and development of the oncology program at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Elevating client-centered care infuses her practice and informs her training and mentoring of oncology residents and veterinary students.

Currently, she heads both the Specialty Medicine Section and the Oncology Service within the college’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Her interest and expertise in communication skills has led to her additional appointment as coordinator of communication training within the college. Dr. Garrett contributes to the continuing education of practicing veterinarians by speaking and publishing on oncology topics and by consulting on cases.

Her impact as a leader in veterinary medicine extends nationally and internationally. Dr. Garrett has served as president and as chair of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVI M), an organization with more than 3,700 veterinary specialists in the fields of cardiology, large animal internal medicine, neurology, nutrition, oncology, and small animal internal medicine. She was also president of the Veterinary Cancer Society, chair of the ACVIM Oncology Specialty Board examination committee, and a member of the planning committee for the World Veterinary Cancer Congress.

Dr. Garrett earned her undergraduate and veterinary degrees from the University of Illinois. She then spent three years in Minneapolis-St. Paul, first completing an internship at the University of Minnesota and then working in a private referral practice. After a two-year residency in comparative oncology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she practiced at a veterinary referral center in New Zealand for a year and a half. In 1998, Dr. Garrett joined the faculty at Kansas State University. There she helped build the oncology program before returning to Illinois in 2006.

Dr. Timothy M. Fan

Inaugural Khan Family Chair in Veterinary Oncology Research

Dr. Timothy Fan
Inaugural Khan Family Chair in Veterinary Oncology Research

As the leader of the Comparative Oncology Research Laboratory at Illinois since 2003, Dr. Timothy Fan has pioneered advances pertaining to a wide range of cancers and therapies. From preclinical research to clinical trials involving pets with spontaneous tumors, his research covers the spectrum of basic and applied cancer biology, with an eye toward translational relevance in human cancer patients.

Within the College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Fan serves as assistant head for research and graduate studies in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine as well as the director of the Veterinary Clinical Trials Center.

On the University of Illinois campus, Dr. Fan has been instrumental in the growth of the Cancer Center at Illinois, where he is associate director for translational research and development. He is also a core member of the Anticancer Discovery from Pets to People theme at the Carl Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.

A hallmark of Dr. Fan’s research is his ability to forge productive partnerships with basic scientists seeking to advance their technologies through the inclusion of pets with cancer. Notably, he played a role in developing the first procaspase-3 activator, PAC-1, an anti-cancer agent that has completed human Phase I clinical trials. Additionally, he has advanced a novel anchored immunotherapy platform developed by MIT scientists, which is now in Phase I first-in-human clinical trials. The clinical translation of these technologies was enabled through a veterinary and comparative oncology approach.

His research and leadership related to veterinary medicine has been recognized at the college, campus, and national levels. In 2020, he received the Career Achievement in Canine Research Award from the American Veterinary Medical Association, and in 2021, he was awarded a University of Illinois Presidential Medallion for his role in implementing an innovative testing response to safeguard communities during the COVID pandemic. In 2021 he also received a Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award from his veterinary alma mater, the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Fan came to Illinois as a small animal intern in 1995. After completing a residency in small animal internal medicine at Cornell University, he returned to Illinois in 1998 for a medical oncology fellowship, followed by a PhD and appointment to the faculty.