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David Geffen School of Medicine


An anonymous donor has made a $5-million contribution in recognition of the leadership of Dr. Carol Mangione, Barbara A. Levey, MD, and Gerald S. Levey, MD, Endowed Chair, in launching the UCLA-Southern California Clinician Leaders Program in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Inspired by the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, which for nearly 40 years fostered the development of physician-leaders who transform health and healthcare, the new platform is a highly customized two-year initiative that places early-career physicians and nurses in intensive regional settings that have the greatest unmet healthcare needs. Participants conduct research that mitigates disparities and directly benefits the health of Southern California-community members. The curriculum is designed to instill in participants a robust set of skills in organizational and social change, applied translational-research methodology, community engagement, program development and evaluation, team management, communication and leadership.

Dr. Venkatesh Harinarayan and Ms. Sudha Neelakantan have contributed $500,000 to the UCLA Department of Pediatrics. This grant will establish the Harinarayan Epilepsy Research Fund to support epilepsy research conducted by Dr. Raman Sankar (RES ’89, FEL ’91), Rubin Brown Chair in Pediatric Neurology and chief of pediatric neurology in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Sankar addresses the mechanisms of seizure-induced injury and epileptogenicity in the developing brain and works to advance bench-to-bedside therapies.

The Arline and Seymour Kreshek Family Fund has made a $1-million pledge to support the work of Dr. Andrew Charles (MD ’86, RES ’90, FEL ’92), Meyer and Renee Luskin Chair in Migraine and Headache Studies in the UCLA Department of Neurology and director of the Headache Research and Treatment Program. The funding will further Dr. Charles’s research into the causes of and potential therapies for allodynia, which is the experience of ordinarily non-painful touch as uncomfortable or painful. For many patients, allodynia can cause significant disability or disruption of normal function, and while there are multiple theories about the cause of allodynia, it remains unknown.

  Sandra and N. Richard Lewis

Sandra and N. Richard Lewis
Photo: Courtesy of the Lewis family

The Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) was honored to receive a gift of nearly $700,000 from the estate of Sandra and N. Richard Lewis to establish the Dick and Sandra Lewis Sarcoma Research Fund under the direction of Dr. Arun Singh (FEL ’11). The Lewises’ bequest will allow Dr. Singh and his team to harness the JCCC’s clinical/translational-research platform to study novel therapies that may prove effective against this complex disease for which new treatments are urgently needed.

Bren Simon has increased her commitment, through the Melvin and Bren Simon Charitable Foundation, to the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases. Her additional multimillion-dollar pledge benefits the Melvin and Bren Simon Digestive Diseases Center within the division. Under the direction of Dr. Eric Esrailian (FEL ’06), Lincy Foundation Chair in Clinical Gastroenterology and co-chief of the Division of Digestive Diseases, the new gift will play a vital role in advancing bench-to-bedside therapies to help close the gap between groundbreaking science at UCLA and the advanced care provided to patients with complex gastrointestinal disorders. Through Simon’s generosity, the division has become a leader in translating research into innovative healthcare, and this funding will enable the division to continue its multidisciplinary efforts to improve the lives of patients and their families.

Tower Cancer Research Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization, has committed more than $800,000 in grants for oncological research at UCLA, as well as a $25,000 grant to support Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. The foundation honored Dr. Richard Pietras (MD ’86, RES ’86, FEL ’92, PhD ’74) in the UCLA Division of Hematology and Oncology and the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center with $500,000 and the Jessica M. Berman Memorial Fund Senior Investigator Award for his work on new strategies to target estrogen receptor downregulators for breast-cancer therapy. Tower awarded three $100,000 Career Development Grants to promising young physician-scientists at UCLA, including Dr. John Lee (FEL ’13) for his work targeting Myc oncoproteins in advanced prostate cancer, Dr. Christopher Seet (FEL ’14) for his research identifying novel mechanisms of immune evasion in acute myeloid leukemia and Dr. Daniel Shin (FEL ’12) for his study of the regulation of PD-L1/L2 expression in melanoma. In addition, Cancer Free Generation, the young leadership division of Tower, has granted Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA $25,000 for its education/ school reintegration program, which closely monitors the progress of each patient to ensure a smooth return to school post-treatment.

The UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases has received a $3-million pledge from the Tull Family Foundation to establish the Tull Family Foundation Fund for Excellence. Under the direction of Dr. Gary Gitnick, The Fran and Ray Stark Foundation Chair in Digestive Diseases and co-chief of the Division of Digestive Diseases, the fund will strengthen the division’s mission to advance novel investigations, clinical efforts and education. It will further core priorities in the division, including key scientific centers, the youth-focused STEM program, as well as the recruitment and retention of distinguished faculty.

For more information, contact Health Sciences Development at: (310) 267-1845


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