Former ophthalmologist and real estate developer Allen Ginsburg (left) and wife Charlotte (right) have donated $29 million to establish a genomic research center at UCLA Health.

Former ophthalmologist and real estate developer Allen Ginsburg (left) and wife Charlotte (right) have donated $29 million to establish a genomic research center at UCLA Health.

UCLA Health has received a $29 million gift from real estate developer and philanthropist Allen Ginsburg and his wife Charlotte to establish a center for precision genetic medicine, the university announced Feb. 11.

The Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg Center for Precision Genomic Medicine will host researchers and physicians who will examine the role of genetics in disease and develop therapies to treat various genetic disorders.

The center intends to use the latest in CRISPR genetic engineering and other technologies to develop therapies to treat cancer, cardiovascular disease, immune disorders and brain disorders such as autism and Parkinson’s Disease.

“Data-driven, individualized treatment is the future of medicine, and the Ginsburg Center speaks to our enduring commitment to provide patients with the best possible care,” said Johnese Spisso, president of UCLA Health and associate vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences.

After he retired as an ophthalmologist in 1990, Allen Ginsburg became a real estate developer and, in later years, focused on philanthropy. Charlotte Ginsburg is a benefactor of performing arts institutions. The couple lives in Palos Verdes.

Previously, the Ginsburgs have donated to rival university USC. In 2018, they donated $10 million to establish a research fund at the USC Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics. In January 2020, they gave an undisclosed amount to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering to help fund a 98,000-square-foot computer science center.

The new UCLA Health research center will be housed within the university’s Center for Precision Health, which was established in 2016 to incorporate genetic research into treatment of disease and techniques to improve health.

The Ginsburgs’ gift includes support for the most modern gene-editing technology platforms such as CRISPR to accelerate the translation of research discoveries to therapeutics.

Also planned is a new one-stop, multidisciplinary and integrated patient clinic — from diagnosis to treatment and follow-up — on the UCLA campus, near a wide range of UCLA Health’s other ambulatory clinics and Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

In addition, the gift creates the Ginsburg Research Fellowship and an annual symposium, which includes an emphasis on population genetics research and ethics.

The new center will draw from the expertise of physicians and researchers from the UCLA Institute for Precision Health and the university’s human genetics department, as well as faculty specializing in medical genetics, rare diseases, computational medicine and other disciplines.

“I am so grateful to Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg for their remarkable vision and generosity and for placing their confidence in UCLA’s capacity for innovation,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in the announcement. “Combining our health system’s strengths in biomedical research and clinical care, the Ginsburg Center is sure to benefit patients and their families through life-saving, individualized treatments.”

UCLA Health announced last November that it had entered into a collaborative research agreement with the Regeneron Genetics Center to provide whole exome sequencing for 150,000 patients, an important step in bringing genomic medicine to people across California.

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