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Irene Pollin Makes Transformational Gift to Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute's Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center

Longtime women’s health advocate gives $10 million to establish the Linda Joy Pollin Women’s Heart Health Program in support of women’s heart research and education


Los Angeles - April 26, 2013 - In an effort to better protect women from heart disease, Irene Pollin, a widely respected public health advocate who founded the nation’s first organization dedicated to preventing heart disease in women, has donated $10 million to the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute.

The new Linda Joy Pollin Women’s Heart Health Program will further the women's heart health research and educational work of C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center and the Women’s Guild Chair in Women’s Health.  

“Irene Pollin’s gift will be the launching point of an alliance,” said Bairey Merz. “We are honored to partner with her in our mission to improve gender-specific treatment options and defeat heart disease, which is the leading cause of death among women.”

Educating women about heart disease risks has been a longtime mission for Pollin, who, along with her husband, Abe, owned sports teams including the Washington Wizards basketball team and the Washington Capitals hockey team. The Pollins’ daughter, Linda Joy, for whom the new Cedars-Sinai program is named, was born with a heart defect and died at age 16.

Irene Pollin founded the nonprofit organization Sister to Sister in 1999 as a way to encourage women to undergo heart disease screening. Today, Sister to Sister is the nation’s largest provider of free heart disease screenings for women. 

“Since founding Sister to Sister in Washington, D.C., I have longed to find a place to establish a heart disease prevention program geared toward women,” said Pollin, a member of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Round Table. “Partnering with Cedars-Sinai’s Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center is an obvious extension of the prevention-focused work that has made Sister to Sister unique. I could not think of a better way to reach out to our sisters than establishing the Linda Joy Pollin Women’s Heart Health Program. Heart disease knows no boundaries, and neither will we.”

In addition to playing a major role in changing health outcomes for women, a cornerstone of the work conducted through the program will be uniting all women in the fight against heart disease, said Bairey Merz. 

Thomas M. Priselac, president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai, said, “The Cedars-Sinai family is deeply grateful for Mrs. Pollin’s most generous gift that will enhance our efforts in heart health. The work and treatment that will be undertaken at the Linda Joy Pollin Women’s Heart Health Program at the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center will be critical in preventing heart disease.”

Pollin is looking forward to the new program’s results. “Although heart disease causes one in three women's deaths, simple lifestyle changes can have a major impact in reducing their risk,” she said. “Ours is a natural partnership, one built on a common notion of universal sisterhood. Since making my decision to establish the program at Cedars-Sinai, my heart has been telling me how right this is.”

About Irene Pollin, MSW and PhD (Hon), Founder and Chairman, Sister to Sister
Irene Pollin has been a pioneer in many areas of women’s health. She was motivated to start Sister to Sister in 1999 to get the word out to women — especially to working women, who have little time to take care of themselves — that cardiac screenings are a key factor in preventing heart disease. A psychotherapist with a Master of Social Work degree from Catholic University and an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Howard University, Pollin is the author of two books, "Medical Crisis Counseling" and "Taking Charge: Overcoming the Challenges of Long-Term Illness," and has written many articles on coping with chronic illness. She has received numerous healthcare awards and is a member of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Round Table, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health’s Heart Attack Campaign Expert Panel and American Women for International Understanding.

About the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute
The Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute is internationally recognized for outstanding heart care built on decades of innovation and leading-edge research. From cardiac imaging and advanced diagnostics to surgical repair of complex heart problems to the training of the heart specialists of tomorrow and research that is deepening medical knowledge and practice, the institute is known around the world for excellence and innovations.

The Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center in the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute is playing a leading role in identifying female-pattern heart disease, developing new diagnostic tools and advancing specialized care for women. Although women experience different heart disease symptoms than men, until recently, women’s heart disease treatment was based on medical research performed on men. The Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center is working to correct these gender inequalities as well as to educate women on how to recognize female-pattern heart disease symptoms. For more information, please visit: www.streisandwomensheartcenter.org