September 25, 2017

Profile: Dr. Kiran C. Patel

Great Expectations

A Tampa cardiologist-philanthropist lives and gives on a grand scale.

Florida Staff | 5/1/2006

Fifteen years ago, Renu Khator, a political science professor who'd come to Tampa from Purdue University to take a position at the Univeristy of South Florida, sat at a fund-raising dinner as a Tampa cardiologist named Kiran C. Patel unveiled plans to build, of all things, an Indian cultural center that would hold 1,000 people -- more Indians than Khator figured lived in the city.

"My father said, 'If you come in second, do not put your foot in this house,'" says entrepreneur Kiran Patel, who sold his WellCare HMO in 2002 for $200 million.

Khator remembers rolling her eyes. "I remember thinking that his plans were way too much. We had very few Indians in Tampa at that time, and not even an Indian restaurant," she says. "What was this man thinking?"

Patel was thinking big. It's the only way he thinks -- from outsized success in the business world to charitable giving that places him among Florida's most generous philanthropists. Raised Hindu, Patel believes it's his karmic obligation to spend his fortune in the places that helped him make it: Africa, India and Tampa, where last year he made the largest donation in the history of Florida's public universities, funding a global solutions center at USF that targets crises from AIDS to water shortage.

"God put each of us on this world for some reason," says Patel. "Each person will figure that reason out for himself. But everyone must try to make the world a better place."

The words seem to befit a man whom friends and colleagues unfailingly describe as "humble," "very humble" or "the humblest man I've ever known." What, then, to make of the Lamborghini, the Ferrari and plans for the biggest house in Tampa -- 40,000 square feet of marble, glass and stainless steel complete with a 450-foot-long swimming pool -- with an estimated cost of up to $20 million.

And how to square them with Patel's ego, which he admits is as grandiose as the rest? "From day one I created my own world and lived in my own world," Patel says. "I've always been different -- bigger than life in everything I do."

Tags: Tampa Bay

Digital Access

Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single digital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.


Florida Business News

  • Breaking News: Nova Southeastern University calls $200 million commitment from Patel Family 'transformational'

    Today, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) announces the largest philanthropic gift in its history from Tampa-area cardiologist Dr. Kiran C. Patel and his wife, pediatrician Dr. Pallavi Patel. The commitment from the Patel Family Foundation includes a $50 million gift and an additional $150 million for real estate and facilities. The money will be used to expand the university's programs in osteopathic medicine and health care sciences, and also to develop a new 27-acre campus for NSU in Clearwater, Fla. The Patels are renowned in Florida for their philanthropy, community service and entrepreneurship.

    “This gift and additional investment will enrich NSU’s ability to educate highly-qualified physicians and health care professionals who understand how the medical disciplines can and must work together. These future leaders will represent the cultural diversity of our region, our nation and our world so that they can better serve their patients and communities,” said NSU President Dr. George Hanbury.

    Their $50 million gift, one of the seven-largest to any Florida university in history, catapults NSU to more than 84% of its goal to raise $250 million by 2020 for its Realizing Potential philanthropic campaign.

    Read more at the news release, here.

Florida Trend Video Pick

Haunted maze at Merritt Square Mall
Haunted maze at Merritt Square Mall

Take a tour behind the scenes at the Frightmaze Hotel at the Merritt Square Mall.

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

Are you still being cautious to prevent mosquito-borne diseases? (i.e. protective clothing, insect repellent)

  • Yes, very cautious
  • Sometimes, if I remember
  • No, not worried

See Results

Ballot Box