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David Geffen School of Medicine


An anonymous donor made a $250,000 gift to support the research of new treatments for progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) syndrome and related tauopathies, using PET scanning technology. Tauopathies are a class of neurodegenerative diseases resulting from the pathological aggregation of tau protein in neurofibrillary tangles in the human brain. This project is under the direction of Dr. Gary Small in the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. The donor also pledged $808,643 to the Department of Neurology to underwrite Dr. Daniel Geschwind’s collaborative efforts into the causes, treatment and prevention of tauopathies. His laboratory focuses on autism and neurodegenerative diseases and their relationship to the range of normal human higher-cognitive function. These two investments are vital to the Tau Consortium, whose participants from UCLA and other high-profile institutions investigate tau dysfunction that causes neurons to lose their connections to other neurons, thus resulting in profound effects on cognition – the ability to think and reason.

The Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation has received a gift of $850,000 from the Avon Foundation to support the UCLA-Avon Cares for life program at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, under the direction of Dr. Judith Gasson and breast-imaging fellowships under the direction of Dr. Lawrence Bassett. To date, the Avon Foundation has contributed more than $4 million to support breast cancer screening and research at UCLA.

Earl E. Gales, M.A. ’74, has contributed $50,000 to date to support the Earl Gales Family Fellowship in Endocrine Surgery, funding the work of Dr. Michael Yeh in the Division of General Surgery. Dr. Yeh is working to educate future surgeons on the intricacies of the endocrine system and to develop specialized techniques to address disorders of the endocrine glands. The Earl Gales Family Fellowship, established in 2009, was the first such program in the history of endocrine surgery at UCLA. It was named to honor the Gales family, including Earl’s wife Starla Gales, B.A. ’73, and their children Starla Cherie Gales, Earl E. Gales III and Ryan E. Gales.

Thanks to a three-year, $300,000 grant from the OneWest Foundation – matched by funds from UCLA Health System – Venice Family Clinic patients who need hospitalization or specialized medical care but do not have private insurance or qualify for Medi-Cal or Medicare coverage may be helped by a pilot project. “Currently, there is a fragmented system in place to ensure access to specialty and inpatient care for low income patients seen at the Venice Family Clinic,” says Dr. David T. Feinberg, CEO of UCLA Hospital System and associate vice chancellor. Now such patients will be seen at Venice Family Clinic’s new Colen Family Health Center in Mar Vista. “It gives me great satisfaction to know that OneWest is playing a vital role in advancing UCLA’s mission of research, education, patient care and public service, as well as the Venice Family Clinic’s commitment to patient care,” says Steven T. Mnuchin, chairman of the OneWest Foundation. “We are proud to help make a difference in the lives of those in our community.”

Denise and Peter Wittich made a gift of $400,000 to the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation to support the Wittich family project for emerging therapies in breast cancer under the direction of Dr. Dennis Slamon. through their consistent philanthropy, Mr. and Mrs. Wittich are committed to advancing the efforts of Dr. Slamon and his team as they strive to develop more effective, less toxic treatments for breast cancer.


The Maggie G. Gilbert Endowed Chair in Bipolar Disorders, established by Mrs. Rose Gilbert to honor her daughter’s memory, was highlighted in the fall 2009 issue of UCLA Medicine. As a result, Stephen White, M.D. ’71, who was a high school student in Mrs. Gilbert’s advanced-placement English class in the ’60s, was inspired to make a contribution to the endowment. In his letter, he stated, “…she managed to transfer to us some of her ferocious, unstoppable love of learning. That has stayed with me throughout my life, and I hope i passed some of it on to my children, as well.”

Doug’s Daily Dollar

Started by the principal of Lemoore High School, in the San Joaquin Valley, Doug’s Daily Dollar is a fundraising program to support student Douglas “DJ” Lucken, who has Lafora disease. It is a rare form of inherited epilepsy, with the patients’ life expectancy not exceeding 25. At UCLA, Dr. Antonio V. Delgado-Escueta and his colleagues are studying gene therapy as treatment, and the gifts, ranging from $1 to $100, are being used to underwrite this work on behalf of Doug. After just five days, the school and community had brought in $2,000.


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