Cedars-Sinai IBD Expert Awarded Inaugural Endowed Chair

Marla C. Dubinsky, M.D., awarded Abe and Claire Levine Chair in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease


Los Angeles - Dec. 1, 2009Marla C. Dubinsky, M.D., director of the Cedars-Sinai Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center and one of the world’s leading researchers studying the disease, has been named the Abe and Claire Levine Chair in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

The endowed chair, presented in November, will fund continuing research to find groundbreaking new treatments for IBD. Claire Levine, who was inspired to create the endowment after seeing her own daughter struggle with Crohn’s disease, hopes that this research will also lead to a cure for the painful disease that affects more than 250,000 children in the United States.

“Because of the generosity of the Levine family, our research will be taken to greater heights, and the speed of discovery will be accelerated,” Dubinsky said. “At the Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, we strive every day to improve the lives of our patients. Through our research, we hope to dramatically improve the lives of thousands of children who suffer from IBD.”

Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, is the fastest growing gastrointestinal immune disorder in children for which there is no cure.

Claire Levine became involved with the Greater Los Angeles/Orange County chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America in 1993 when her daughter was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. She came to believe that there was too little awareness of the illness, and was inspired to become more active in CCFA. She met Dubinsky through CCFA’s Camp Oasis program. The gift of the endowed chair was made in the name of her and her late husband. Claire Levine is chairwoman of the Board of Specialty Merchandise Corporation, a family-owned business that her husband founded. She continues to serve on the Greater Los Angeles/Orange County CCFA Board of Trustees.

“This generous gift from the Levine family will allow Dubinsky to continue innovative research that will result in better treatments and more choices for children and families confronting inflammatory bowel disease,” said Charles Simmons, M.D., chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Cedars-Sinai.

Dubinsky’s research focuses on immune system disorders that affect children, specifically gastroenterologyrelated diseases. Her objective is to study how genetics and immune responses affect the early onset of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both forms of inflammatory bowel disease. Her promising research into specific areas of immune system functions is important for not only how it can affect the treatment of IBD, but also its applications for treatment of other chronic immune disorders that affect children.

The Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, which Dubinsky established at Cedars-Sinai in 2001, takes an individualized approach to treating patients, and has become a model for centers throughout the world.

“She wants to change the life of each individual patient,” said Stephan R. Targan, M.D., director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center and the Division of Gastroenterology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. “She is recognized nationally and internationally as the leader in the pediatric IBD field.”

Dubinsky earned her medical degree from Queen’s University in Canada. She completed her clinical pediatric gastroenterology training in Montreal, Canada. She has lectured widely at both a national and international level. She has also published more than 80 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

The Abe and Claire Levine Chair in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease is one of 45 endowed chairs at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Each chair has enabled the medical center to attract and retain scientific leaders with the potential to advance the understanding, treatment and eradication of disease. Philanthropists have supported chair holders researching a wide variety of diseases, including atherosclerosis, cancer and brain tumors, hypertension, diabetes, and schizophrenia. An endowed chair is created with a contribution of at least $2 million. The principal remains untouched, generating continuing resource to support the chair holder’s teaching and research. The first endowed chair was established at Cedars-Sinai in 1984.