UCLA has received a commitment of $1 million from Milwaukee Brewers Principal Owner Mark Attanasio and his wife, Debbie, to support the new Innovation in Geriatric Medicine Fund at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The fund will provide unrestricted resources for early-stage research, physician training and education, and clinical programs under the direction of Dr. Brandon Koretz, co-chief of the division of geriatrics.

“The Innovation in Geriatric Medicine Fund will advance a variety of efforts to improve the health of older adults, from accelerating fundamental research and developing new diagnostics and therapeutics to building a pipeline of future geriatricianscientists,” said Koretz, UCLA’s Carol and James Collins Professor of Geriatric Medicine. “By supporting these efforts, this generous gift from the Attanasio family will help UCLA improve care and quality of life for older adults in Los Angeles and around the world.”

The fund’s first seed funding recipient is Dr. Deena Goldwater, a UCLA geriatric cardiologist and assistant clinical professor whose specialty is managing cardiovascular disease in relation to aging. Her research goals are to gain a better understanding of aging-related changes that diminish resilience in older adults with cardiovascular disease and to develop interventions to promote healthful aging.

Supporting research like Goldwater’s is a critical part of UCLA’s efforts to retain outstanding faculty members and advance knowledge in the field, which in turn will help prepare physicians across the country to care for a growing elderly population. By 2030, about 70 million Americans — approximately 20% of the population — will be 65 or older, which could seriously strain the nation’s health care system.

Mark Attanasio said the family contributed to UCLA out of gratitude for the care UCLA Health has provided for his family, particularly his mother. They were eager to support Koretz’s vision for fostering health care innovation and resiliency research when they heard about the innovation fund from Dr. Eric Esrailian, chief of the UCLA Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases and an enthusiastic advocate for the geriatrics program.

“Our family sees the Innovation in Geriatric Medicine Fund as an opportunity to make both an immediate and long-term difference in responding to the growing need for high-quality geriatric care,” Attanasio said. “We strongly believe our society must elevate the elderly and value their wisdom and love. They should be cherished and not forgotten.”

Attanasio also said there is overlap between his passion for advances in geriatric medicine and his role as a Major League Baseball team owner. As owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, he often hears from older fans who tell him that the structure and enjoyment of watching baseball contribute to their quality of life. 

Attanasio is the co-founder and managing partner of Los Angeles-based Crescent Capital Group LP. In addition to supporting health care initiatives, he and Debbie are actively involved in numerous philanthropies focusing on underprivileged youth, high school and higher education, the arts, and Jewish and Catholic communities.

They have instilled similar philanthropic values in their children. For example, their son Mike joined with several professional athletes to launch California Strong, which raises funds for those in need following natural disasters and other tragic events. The organization contributed to UCLA Health’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by contributing funds, distributing grants and, with the Wahlburgers restaurant chain, organizing hospital meal deliveries.