Health advocate Pollin donates $10M to Johns Hopkins heart disease center

Irene Pollin, a passionate health advocate and founder of a national organization devoted to heart disease prevention in women, has made a $10 million gift to the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease at Johns Hopkins. Her donation also establishes the Kenneth Jay Pollin Professorship in Cardiology and will launch pivotal research on heart disease prevention.

Irene Pollin

Image caption: Irene Pollin

Pollin lost two children because of congenital heart defects. Her son, Kenneth, died when he was 13 months old. It is in his honor that the endowed professorship has been named. Her daughter, Linda, died at age 16. Those experiences led Pollin, a psychotherapist with a master's degree in social work, to become a health advocate focused on the importance of heart health.

"If you're lucky to be born with a healthy heart, you need to take care of it, and there's a lot you can do," Pollin said. "I see this gift to the Ciccarone Center as a way to make a powerful impact on the knowledge and behavior of people to improve their health," she adds.

Pollin's gift will enable the center to advance the field of prevention in many ways, according to Roger Blumenthal, professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the Ciccarone Center.

"Ms. Pollin's extraordinary support will help us lead transformative work in the field of preventive cardiology," he said. "Her generosity will make it possible for us to better define risk factors and implement new ways to prevent heart attack and stroke.

"Her gift will also allow us to provide advanced training to more of our postdoctoral cardiology fellows in cardiovascular epidemiology and clinical trial design at the Bloomberg School of Public Health."

In 2000, Pollin established Sister to Sister, an organization dedicated to educating and motivating women to make constructive lifestyle changes that can improve their heart health. She is the author of two books and has earned numerous awards for her advocacy work. She and her late husband, Abe Pollin, who died in 2009, were the owners of the NBA's Washington Wizards and the NHL's Washington Capitals.

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