Dr. Beth Karlan named inaugural chair holder
UCLA has received a $5 million gift to create an endowed chair in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine. The inaugural holder is Dr. Beth Karlan, an esteemed professor of obstetrics and gynecology and the department’s vice chair of women’s health research.
The Marks family’s endowment will provide long-term resources to ensure that women’s health research efforts at UCLA Health are led by only the most eminent physician-scientists in the field.
Nancy Marks, a passionate advocate for preventive medicine, noted Karlan was “the ideal physician-researcher to lead new investigations and mentor others for this vital work.” She also serves on several boards such as New York-Presbyterian Hospital and its integrative health center as well as being a trustee of the Lynne Cohen Foundation, which provides support and care for women with ovarian cancer and breast cancer, and a member of the board of the Melanoma Research Alliance. Her husband, Howard Marks is an acclaimed investor and cofounder of Oaktree Capital Management, one of the largest investors in distressed assets.
Though much progress has been made in recent decades, there had been too little attention given to women’s health until recently. Women were largely overlooked in medical research until much later into the 20th century while scientists simply considered them smaller versions of men – not taking into account gender differences in biology or disease patterns, even when studying animal cohorts comprised entirely of males.
Karlan earned her medical degree at Harvard Medical School before completing her residency at Yale New Haven Hospital followed by a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at UCLA. Since then she has been recognized as one of America’s foremost authorities on ovarian cancer earning international accolades for her hard work towards preventative measures and improved detection methods to treat cancers such as ovarian cancer and other gynecological malignancies. Her current investigations focus on making cascade genetic testing for families with high cancer risk standard care whilst exploring further avenues to prevent and treat cancer altogether from occurring.
“Dr. Karlan is a pioneer in the use of cancer genetics to inform treatment decisions, improve survival and quality of life, and empower families with elevated genetic risk factors to take informed action,” said Dr. Steven Dubinett, interim dean of the Geffen School of Medicine. “She led the creation of a tumor biorepository for gynecologic cancers, which continues to prove critical to advancing our understanding of hereditary cancers.”
With annual payouts from endowment created by Nancy and Howard Marks they hope Dr Karlan will be able to allocate funds to support promising research studies conducted by brilliant investigators leading them plus providing mentorship opportunities for OB-GYN fellowships whilst still conducting her own important investigations into various aspects controlling cancer outcomes.
“I cannot thank Nancy and Howard enough for their generosity and vision,” Karlan said. “Nancy has long been a champion of the work I do, providing cutting-edge and compassionate care to women with cancer while striving to find new ways to treat and prevent the disease. I am humbled to hold the chair that carries her name as I seek to foster new talent and expand the reach of research that will improve the well-being of more and more women — and men — everywhere.”
As a further tribute to Karlan, the Markses have specified that when she retires, the endowed chair will be renamed in her honor.