Donor Spotlight: The Drs. Bazan

The intensity and passion Drs. Nicolas and Haydee Bazan dedicate to everything and everyone in their extensive orbits becomes evident at a first meeting. Both astoundingly accomplished scientists, researchers, and medical professionals, they have, independently and together, shared parallel interest and dedication to New Orleans Opera and other community organizations in the greater metro area, regionally, and abroad.  

The Bazans recently committed to sponsor the New Orleans Opera debut of Jorge Parodi, the Jerry W. Zachary and Henry Bernstein Maestro Chair, who will conduct NOOA’s upcoming production of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. The sponsorship was pledged in honor of Maestro Robert Lyall, Dr. Ranney Mize, and soprano Sarah Jane McMahon. Yardbird is the second production of The Ranney and Emel Songu Mize Chamber Opera Series and will take place on January 20, 21, and 22, 2023 at the New Orleans Jazz Market. 

Mº Jorge Parodi conducting an excerpt from Wagner’s Lohengrin
at Kioi Hall in Tokyo, Japan.

Born in Argentina, the Drs. Bazan trained as research fellows at the College of Physicians & Surgeons at Columbia University in New York before completing fellowships at Harvard Medical School. He was appointed faculty at the University of Toronto at age 26, and after two years of innovative brain research, they decided to return to Argentina to train newer generations of scientists.  Nicolas became the founding director of the Instituto de Investigaciones Bioquimicas, an Argentinian university’s joint project with the National Research Council, as well as the founding director of a biology school. Haydee accomplished her Ph.D. while simultaneously completing their nuclear family with five children. (They now also have 14 grandchildren.)  

Forced to flee Argentina in 1981 due to ongoing political unrest, they returned to the United States and settled in New Orleans. Nicolas became the inaugural founder of the Ernest C. and Ivette C. Villere Chair for Retinal Degenerations (1982-), Professor of Ophthalmology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Neurology at LSUHSC School of Medicine in New Orleans and, in 1989, became the founding director of the LSU Neuroscience Center of Excellence. He is also, since 2017, a Foreign Adjunct Professor of Neuroscience at the prestigious Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

Today, as the Center’s Director, he conducts groundbreaking research on Alzheimer’s, Stroke, traumatic brain injury, ALS, Parkinson’s, Pain, and Age-Related Macular Degeneration, exploring the complexities of brain and retina diseases and neurodegeneration. He is also breaking potential therapeutic grounds on long COVID affecting the brain and the heart. Haydee is an equally accomplished Professor of Neuroscience, Ophthalmology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at LSUHSC’s New Orleans Campus of the School of Medicine. Her principal work is on the cornea of the eye.  

Drs. Nicolas and Haydee Bazan

The Drs. Bazan have been passionate supporters of New Orleans Opera for decades. Nicolas has also been a long-time Board member of the organization and continues to serve to this day. Together, the Bazans have chaired the Mastersigners’ Maestro Circle since its founding. This special category of upper-level donors who give $10,000 per year or more was created in honor of former General and Artistic Director Robert Lyall in 2009.  

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Bazans for their incredible support and for their leadership on behalf of New Orleans Opera!   

Dr. Nicolas Bazan with Sarah Jane McMahon (right), a dedicatee of their recent pledge, and famed mezzo-soprano, Victoria Livengood (left)