Olsen’s first job was in New Haven, Connecticut, at Yale University School of Medicine, where he said he had the opportunity to work with some of the “brightest and most energetic scientists” making the research.
“The problem was that they were always plagued with applying for grants and accepting grants to fund themselves,” Olsen said. “I thought if one day I could be able to help basic researchers, that would be great.”
Olsen left New Haven in 1984 and came to the Dayton area to found the Central States Dermatopathology Laboratory, a regional and national skin pathology laboratory.
“Over the years we’ve been very lucky and done some very groundbreaking work around 2010 trying to establish a digital platform in skin pathology,” Olsen said. This work on the digital platform is ongoing, but they have also seen success on the practice and lab side. This has allowed Olsen and Boosalis to be able to give back to education and the scientific community.
In thinking about where to give back, Olsen reflected on his time in the 1980s when he was working with researchers. Olsen wanted to be able to help fund research in a way that those doing research wouldn’t have to continually apply and search for funding. This brought him back to his alma mater, Indiana University, where he and Boosalis endowed the chair in evolutionary biology in July 2019. The cost of endowing a chair is usually between 1.5 and 2 million dollars, he said.
Olsen later found out that he had been chosen as the recipient of the Old Crescent award at Indiana University’s 2022 College Alumni Awards. He said he generally avoids awards, not wanting to draw too much attention to himself, but he hoped this award and its endowment would inspire others to give back and be philanthropists.
The individual has not yet been selected for the Chair in Evolutionary Biology at the Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences, but this position will allow them to have funding and unleash their efforts. in the field of evolutionary biology. He hopes that the research from this position will lead to scientific discovery that will then lead to therapy or treatment of some kind.
“They’re such a creative, energetic, diligent bunch,” Olsen said of the medical researchers. “It has been one of the pleasures of my life to be associated with them, and now to be able to offer this chair, we hope he will be a great person.”
Olsen and Boosalis also funded a chair in dermatology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in partnership with the Dermatology Foundation, honoring a former Olsen mentor.
“We’re very interested in giving, and we encourage others to give,” Olsen said. He said it was not always about giving money, but that individuals could also give their time. He also recalled how he received similar encouragement to give and give back when a friend once said to him, “If you hesitate to give, don’t hesitate, give.” Give more and more often.
This advice continued to stick with Olsen.
“If I hesitate, I just give, and I like the concept of giving more and more often,” Olsen said.
Boosalis also praised her husband for his philanthropic efforts, saying she thinks it will inspire others to donate. They are also particularly linked to education, believing that it is important in solving problems that arise in the world.
“We believe education is key,” Boosalis said.
Olsen and Boosalis hoped this endowment would sustain the researchers for years to come.
“It really fits with what Tom has done in his own life,” Boosalis said.