Columbia’s Cardiology Division Receives $32.5 Million Gift from Milstein Family

Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons announced today that its Division of Cardiology has received a $32.5 million gift from the Louis and Gloria Flanzer Philanthropic Trust of Sarasota, Florida. The gift will fund an endowment that will support the division’s programs in patient care, research, and education. 

The gift is the first in the history of the 251-year-old medical school to fund an endowment that will provide broad financial support for an entire department or division, in perpetuity. In recognition of the gift the school has renamed the cardiology division the Seymour, Paul and Gloria Milstein Division of Cardiology. Gloria Milstein Flanzer is the sister of Seymour and Paul Milstein. 

“Columbia’s cardiology program is one of the best in the world, and the enormous generosity of the Milsteins will help to ensure its pre-eminence for many years to come,” said Lee Goldman, MD, dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine and chief executive of Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

“This remarkable gift will ensure that we continue to attract the nation’s most talented cardiologists and researchers to Columbia, and it will enable new discoveries that improve outcomes for patients with heart disease,” said Allan Schwartz, MD, the Harold Ames Hatch Professor of Medicine and Seymour Milstein Professor of Cardiology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and chief of cardiology. “It will also help us provide the best possible educational experience for physicians who choose Columbia for their specialty training in cardiology.”

The Milstein gift also includes $2.5 million that will fund an endowed professorship to be held by a faculty member in the division in honor of Dr. Schwartz’s leadership. 

Columbia University has long been a leader in the development of groundbreaking therapies for patients with heart disease. In 1956, Columbia cardiologists Dickinson W. Richards and Andre F. Cournand shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their pioneering work in cardiac catheterization. Columbia cardiologists also played a major part in the development of novel therapies for heart failure, leading clinical trials that paved the way for approval of the first implantable left ventricular assist device (LVAD) and the first drug to treat a genetic form of heart failure. In addition, cardiologists at Columbia were instrumental in the development of transcatheter-based aortic valve replacement (TAVR) treatments for heart valves and led the pivotal clinical trials that resulted in the approval of this revolutionary treatment. Columbia’s cardiac electrophysiology program is a leader in expanding the understanding of the molecular physiology of cardiac arrhythmias and also in developing the key drug- and device-based treatments for arrhythmias.  More recently, the division established a new cardiometabolic precision medicine program to uncover the genetic basis of cardiovascular diseases and develop targeted therapies to treat and prevent heart disease. This work is a critical component of Columbia’s University-wide precision medicine initiative. 

With the current gift, the Milsteins have donated more than $100 million to Columbia University. These gifts have supported Columbia's clinical and educational programs in the medical school, including the Gloria and Louis Flanzer Vision Care Center, the Irma and Paul Milstein Laboratory in the Department of Surgery, the Vagelos Education Center, and five endowed professorships throughout the medical school (in medicine and surgery), as well as educational programs on the main campus. The Milsteins also have contributed generously to Columbia’s hospital partner, NewYork-Presbyterian, including a $25 million gift in 1988 to build the Milstein Hospital and a $50 million gift in 2006 to create the Vivian and Seymour Milstein Family Heart Center on the Columbia University Irving Medical Center campus. Their support also allowed us to establish the Gloria and Louis Flanzer Cardiac Center, which provides noninvasive cardiology care within the Milstein Hospital, and the Vivian and Seymour Milstein Family Infant Cardiac Unit in the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at NYP/Columbia. Other gifts from the family to Columbia and the Hospital include the Flanzer Eye Center, surgical suites, fellowships, and the Gloria and Louis Flanzer Amphitheatre in the Harkness Eye Institute.