health Blog

Honoring my Father’s Legacy

This month, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) will celebrate a decade of Kenneth Rainin’s support. My father’s generosity helped establish the Colitis and Crohn’s Disease Center, one of the nation’s leading centers for research and patient care.

In philanthropy, like all his pursuits, my father loved the wild ideas that had the power to transform. Time and time again, I saw my father’s particular genius at play. He would see a need, find the best people to do the job, give them needed resources, and then get out of their way. And, that’s exactly what he did for UCSF.

Twenty years ago, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, one of the two most common forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). My father also suffered from ulcerative colitis, and after my diagnosis he shared his frustration about the lack of available treatment options. Despite the best care, he experienced debilitating flare-ups, and understood how important it was to manage the symptoms. He saw a need to make things better for patients. And, because he was an entrepreneur with a generous spirit, he believed he could.

He asked the doctors and staff at UCSF what he could do to help. And he listened to their ideas. It was our gastroenterologist, Dr. James Ostroff, who told him that to improve patient outcomes, Northern California needed a research center focused on IBD.

Funding the Big Idea

My father received outstanding care from Dr. Ostroff and others, and that inspired him to make a significant contribution to UCSF. Thanks to these investments and UCSF’s efforts, in 2002 Northern California opened a comprehensive IBD center, one of only a few in the nation. Creating a major research center was a pretty wild idea, just the sort of ambitious pursuit that interested my father.

Leveraging my father’s investments and the promise of the research center, UCSF recruited Dr. Averil Ma, a preeminent clinician-scientist from the University of Chicago in 2004. This was a monumental milestone for the center’s evolution. Together, Dr. Ma and Dr. Ostroff—both Kenneth Rainin Distinguished Professors—have developed robust research programs to better understand, prevent, diagnose and treat IBD. They are embracing my father’s approach—assembling the right people with the right skills to make sure we get to the right answers.

Celebrating Kenneth Rainin

Kenneth Rainin, Kenneth Rainin Foundation
Celebrating Kenneth Rainin’s Legacy At UCSF: A Decade of Discovery in IBD
Thursday, November 30, 10 AM–3 PM
UCSF Kalmanovitz Library, Lange Room
530 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco
Event is free and open to the public.

A symposium celebrating the 10th anniversary of Kenneth Rainin’s gift to the Division of Gastroenterology, featuring scientific talks by:

  • Jean-Frédéric Colombel, MD, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Averil Ma, MD, UCSF
  • Michael Fischbach, PhD, UCSF

Through the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, my father’s generosity continues to advance IBD research nationally and internationally. We are one of only a few funders in this area, and with resources like federal funding increasingly unreliable, I encourage more funders to join us in this space. Together, our investments and accomplishments can achieve new approaches and answers to IBD’s most vexing questions. I know from this experience that institutions are open to creative solutions and want to respond to challenges.

Ten Years of Progress

My father’s experiences at the Colitis and Crohn’s Disease Center were incredibly positive. When he died in 2007, the Division of Gastroenterology received a $15 million gift from his trust that propelled the center to a whole new level.

The Colitis and Crohn’s Disease Center at UCSF is at the forefront of pioneering research efforts. Researchers are exploring emerging areas like the microbiome, leading a clinical trial using fecal microbiota transplantation, and studying the various new drugs to treat IBD. Through these efforts, we are gaining a better understanding of this complex disease.

Kenneth Rainin Foundation, Averil Ma, UCSF IBD Center, UCSF Crohn's & Colitis Center

Averil Ma, MD, Director of the UCSF IBD Center

UCSF recruits top talent and is training the next generation of IBD experts. As a result, patients of all ages are getting state-of-the-art care and the best treatment options. Plus, the holistic clinical care program provides alternative ways to manage our disease.

This decade of progress wouldn’t have been possible without the vision of Dr. Ma and Dr. Ostroff. I’m especially grateful for Dr. Ma’s commitment to my father’s legacy both at UCSF and on the Rainin Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Ma is driving IBD research in the most innovative and promising directions.

Ultimately, my father’s gifts were successful because they focused on what was needed. It’s clear that he was the right person to help, and UCSF was the right partner for the job. While I’m saddened that my father isn’t alive to celebrate this milestone, I know he’d be thrilled by the ripple effect of his generosity.

Jennifer Rainin, PhD

Jennifer Rainin, PhD

Chief Executive Officer

Jen has served as CEO of the Kenneth Rainin Foundation since its public launch in 2009. Under Jen’s leadership, the Foundation has adopted a targeted approach to grantmaking, expanding and developing several major initiatives in the arts, education and health. Read more.


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