By 1999, UCMG had grown to include six outstanding physicians. In addition to maintaining a busy private cardiology practice, UCMG physicians had become an integral part of the UCLA Medical Enterprise with key leadership roles including:
Medical Director, UCLA Heart Transplant Program
Chief, Division of Clinical Faculty Medicine
Co-Directors, UCLA Clinical Heart Failure Program
Medical Director, Cardiac Rehabilitation Program
Deeply committed to research, the physicians of UCMG embraced clinical studies as critical to the advancement of cardiovascular medicine. With this in mind, UCMG physicians and patients collaborated on the establishment of the Gift of the Heart Foundation. A nonprofit medical research foundation, Gift of the Heart was designed to provide grant support to leading researchers in the field of cardiovascular disease.
In 2002, a large gift from a grateful patient created a unique opportunity for the Foundation to establish its own infrastructure for the conduct of clinical trials. Now, in addition to awarding research grants, the Foundation had the staff and resources to directly participate in research trials.
During the ensuing years, the Foundation sponsored or administered grants for a number of multi-center and single-center clinical research trials resulting in hundreds of abstracts and dozens of peer-reviewed publications.
In addition, the Foundation was able to dedicate more resources to its educational and patient programs, which now included monthly journal clubs, a transplant fellowship, continuing medical education symposia, heart failure preceptorships, patient support groups, a quarterly patient newsletter and annual patient seminars.