If you are a woman who needs medical care, it often becomes crystal clear to you that the health care system doesn’t understand your problems very well. As celebrity chef and gender equality advocate Padma Lakshmi put it at the recent Social Good Summit in New York, when speaking about her own difficulties getting care for endometriosis: “I realized there was a lot of misogyny in the health care system.”
But hopefully as we progress in medicine, misogyny will be rooted out, and more doctors will learn how to attend to the full spectrum of women’s medical concerns. To aid in that process, a $10 million commitment was recently made by philanthropist Iris Cantor to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. These funds will be used to advance the medical school’s work to educate and train both clinicians and researchers in the field of women’s health care.
Cantor has provided funding for three pioneering centers at UCLA to serve women: the Iris Cantor Center for Breast Imaging, which also deployed a mobile unit to serve the community; the Iris Cantor–UCLA Women’s Health Center, one of the first comprehensive women’s health centers in the nation; and the Iris Cantor–UCLA Women’s Health Education and Resource Center, which supports community outreach programs.
“Iris’ desire to address health care disparities was the genesis of these wonderful centers,” Martin said. The new commitment includes $8 million to support training and education in women’s health care at the David Geffen School of Medicine.
The visionary gift also funds a $2 million endowed chair, the Iris Cantor Endowed Chair in Women’s Health, an administrative chair to be held by the director of the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center, currently Dr. Janet Pregler.
To leverage the power of her transformational gift supporting women’s health at UCLA, Cantor had challenged the center’s community advisory board to raise an additional $2 million for the chair. The board’s successful endeavor brings the total endowment to $4 million.
Since it was established 23 years ago, the Iris Cantor–UCLA Women’s Health Center has helped develop a women’s health curriculum for UCLA medical students, and its advisory board has funded more than $2 million in support of early-stage research in women’s health, which its members have leveraged into an additional $21 million from other funders to advance the understanding of women’s unique health needs.
“Thanks to Iris, generations of women have been empowered to take command of their health and inspired to get involved. I believe we can safely say that Iris’ philanthropy reflects her passion and her ability to inspire others to take up the cause,” Martin said.