Dear School of Medicine colleagues,

We are extremely proud and excited to share that the Stravitz-Sanyal Institute for Liver Disease and Metabolic Health at VCU, established in December 2021 in the School of Medicine, has received a gift of $104 million, the largest gift in VCU’s history, as announced today at President Rao’s State of the University address. With the support and tremendous generosity of Dr. Todd Stravitz and his family through the Barbara Brunckhorst Foundation and under the leadership of Dr. Arun Sanyal, the new institute will transform the integration of scientific discovery into clinical care, improving health outcomes for patients suffering from liver disease around the world. Dr. Stravitz’s career and accomplishments benefited our patients for decades. Now as a physician-philanthropist he is dramatically expanding his impact by partnering with Dr. Sanyal in a bold vision.

This extraordinary gift includes the creation of two endowed chairs at VCU’s School of Medicine: the Arun J. Sanyal Endowed Professorship of Medicine and the Phillip B. Hylemon Endowed Professorship of Medicine and Microbiology, ensuring the lasting dedication to recruiting, recognizing and rewarding talent and leadership at the institute.
The institute will be led by Dr. Arun Sanyal, a liver specialist and the Z. Reno Vlahcevic Research Professor in Gastroenterology in the Department of Internal Medicine, whose research has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1995. This new multidisciplinary institute will revolutionize the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of liver disease and make VCU a global leader in research, education and patient care for liver diseases and metabolically driven disorders.

The liver’s central role in metabolism and how the body uses energy means that liver disease impacts the health of other organs. Improved treatment of liver and metabolic health will not only prevent death from liver disease but will also reduce burden of comorbidities including blood pressure, diabetes, heart and kidney disease and even Alzheimer’s disease. The impact of the institute will thus extend beyond the liver to include heart, brain, kidneys, diabetes and cancer.

With focus on translational science, the institute’s physicians and scientists will take a patient-informed, patient-centered approach to advance the boundaries of care with research. The institute also will foster the development of current and future generations of investigators throughout their careers and serve as a platform for scientific research and innovation. The goal is to seamlessly integrate scientific discovery into clinical care and collaborate across departments to improve the care of patients.

We are extremely grateful for the generosity of Dr. Stravitz and his family as well as for their vision to improve the health of patients in Virginia and beyond. We also acknowledge the tremendous leadership of Dr. Arun Sanyal, Dr. Patricia Sime, our former dean, Dr. Peter Buckley, Dr. Marlon Levy and Dr. Vig Kasirajan, as well as the long tradition of excellence in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. Building on a tremendous depth and breadth of talented physicians, nurses, trainees and staff in liver disease and transplantation, these teams are at the cutting edge of patient care and translational research. Their work together with their departments has laid the critical foundation for this institute and the wonderful gift we just received supporting this work. We look forward to the local and global impact the institute will have as it shapes the future of liver disease treatment and metabolic health.

Thank you all for your tireless, ongoing commitment to training the next generation of physicians and scientists, conducting innovative research and providing compassionate, patient-centered care. Congratulations, Dr. Sanyal, Dr. Stravitz, Dr. Sime and team!

With gratitude and pride,

David Chelmow, M.D.
Interim Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Interim Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System