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David Geffen School of Medicine

Visions of Progress and Courage



Photography by Vince Bucci

An evening of moving tributes to patients, family members and friends highlighted the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery’s Visionary Ball 2014. The annual gala, which raises awareness and crucial research funds for brain and spine disorders that affect millions of Americans, took place at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on October 30, 2014. The event raised more than $2.25 million to fund innovative investigations aimed at curing brain cancer, reversing strokes, repairing traumatic injuries and re-engineering the central nervous system.

Hosted by entertainer Arsenio Hall, the special evening featured a performance by the group Wilson Phillips, dinner and multiple awards. Steve Tisch, honored in 2013 with the Visionary Award, was recognized during the evening for his gift of $10 million, committed in 2014, to establish the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program, which focuses on sports concussion prevention, outreach, research and treatment for athletes of all ages, especially youth. This year’s honorees included:

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong — Medical Visionary Award

Dr. Soon-Shiong’s vision as a physician, surgeon and scientist has contributed to breakthroughs in the treatment of diabetes and cancer. Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Soon-Shiong performed the world’s first encapsulated-human-islet transplant and the first pig-to-man islet-cell transplant in diabetic patients. He put the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in the global spotlight when he performed the school’s first whole-pancreas transplant. His invention and development of the drug Abraxane for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer and lung cancer have doubled the response rate in patients with these diseases. The drug has since been approved for treatment of pancreatic cancer and melanoma.

Susan and Jonathan Dolgen — Courage Award

Jonathan Dolgen has had a long and distinguished career as an executive in the entertainment industry, where he held a variety of positions, such as president of Fox, Inc., and chair of 20th Century Fox TV; president of Columbia Pictures; and chairman of the Viacom Entertainment Group. He currently runs Wood River Ventures. Susan Dolgen is an education advocate and philanthropist and was appointed by Govs. Pete Wilson, Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger to the board of the California State Summer School for the Arts, where she served as chair of the Board of Trustees for more than 20 years. Their lives are filled with family and rewarding work; however, two years ago, Jonathan Dolgen suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. He was taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where Dr. Neil A. Martin, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery and W. Eugene Stern Chair in Neurosurgery, performed emergency surgery and saved his life. With courage and determination, Susan and Jonathan Dolgen committed themselves to Jonathan’s intensive rehabilitation, and he continues to improve.

Elizabeth Goldhirsh-Yellin — Visionary Leadership Award

Elizabeth Goldhirsh-Yellin comes to her role as president of the newly formed Goldhirsh-Yellin Foundation after serving as director of the Goldhirsh Foundation since 2003. In this new position, she remains dedicated to furthering the legacy of her late parents, sharing their passion for funding medical research, promoting education from early childhood through college and supporting Jewish causes centered on a commitment to the State of Israel and the preservation of its heritage and history. Her parents’ illnesses and deaths are a driving force in her philanthropic vision. Her father Bernard Goldhirsh battled brain cancer, and her mother Wendy passed away from stage-four stomach cancer. Mrs. Goldhirsh-Yellin will always be committed to supporting research in both these cancers, funding scientists in the United States and in Israel.

Kelsey Grammer — Rodney Respect Award

Kelsey Grammer has excelled at the highest level in theater, television and film as an actor, producer and director. As the recipient of five Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award, it was his role as Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers that developed into the cornerstone of the Juilliard-trained actor’s career. He played the celebrated character over a span of 20 years, tying the record for the longest-running television character. His Gramnet NH Productions produced such hit series as Medium, and he was most recently seen in the films X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Expendables 3 and Think Like a Man Too. Grammer generously shares his time and talents with a number of worthy causes, including the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, the Los Angeles Police Memorial Foundation and the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education.

For more information, contact Leti McNeill Light at: (310) 267-9475.


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