A multimillion-dollar gift has allowed the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases to provide patients with an innovative home health program; supported new, minimally invasive treatment procedures; and funded state-of-the-art gastroenterology research. The funding has helped the division deliver the highest level of care to patients and offer novel approaches to medical therapies.
The generous gift, from the Melvin and Bren Simon Charitable Foundation, was made in memory of Melvin Simon, whose dynamic spirit was a driving force behind his many accomplishments—from co-founding the Simon Property Group, one of the largest shopping mall companies in the United States, to his longtime co-ownership of the NBA's Indiana Pacers.
The gift is a tribute to Melvin's achievements and furthers his wife Bren's tireless advocacy for programs that transform lives. It establishes the Melvin and Bren Simon Digestive Diseases Center at UCLA, an umbrella structure for all of the clinical operations and centers for excellence of the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases.
The center will provide the resources to strengthen a practice group of 60 physicians and medical staff, provide patients with the state-of-the-art technologies and support key division programs.
"We are very pleased to be able to contribute to the work and future of digestive diseases care at UCLA," said Bren Simon, who wanted to give back to the division in thanks for its care for Melvin, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2009 at the age of 82.
Over the past three decades, Bren Simon has been committed to supporting programs that help improve lives, including the United States Institute of Peace, which helps forge international unity, and the National Democratic Institute, a nonpartisan organization that supports women's political progress internationally. She directs both the Melvin and Bren Simon Foundation and the Joshua Max Simon Charitable Foundation.
"We thank the Simons for their tremendous generosity," said Dr. Gary Gitnick, the Fran and Ray Stark Foundation Chair in Digestive Diseases and chief of the Division of Digestive Diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, which is a leader in the diagnosis, treatment and research aimed at combating debilitating and deadly disorders affecting the gastrointestinal tract. "We strive to provide unparalleled care, innovative research and robust physician training. The Simon Foundation's gift will strongly support us in our mission."