Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Announces $5 Million Gift to Expand the Suzi and Scott Lustgarten Center for GI Motility

Published on in CHOP News

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) today announced a $5 million gift from Irma and Norman Braman to expand the Suzi and Scott Lustgarten Center for GI Motility. Established by the Braman family in 2011 with their first $5 million gift, the Lustgarten Center offers the nation’s most comprehensive clinical and research program in pediatric gastrointestinal motility disorders. The Center operates within the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, under the direction of David A. Piccoli, MD, the Division Chief.

“The Braman family has long helped us pioneer innovative pediatric training, patient care and research for motility disorders,” said President and CEO of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Madeline Bell. “We are deeply grateful for their continued partnership to advance and improve pediatric health, and, with their support, look forward to discovering even more breakthroughs for children.”

Expansion of the Suzi and Scott Lustgarten Center for GI Motility will include:

  • Expanded clinical team. CHOP will recruit one additional, fully trained motility physician and two support nurses to join the Lustgarten Center’s existing clinical care team of four senior physicians under the leadership of Center Director Ritu Verma, MBChB, holder of the Suzi and Scott Lustgarten Endowed Chair for Clinical Care of GI Motility Disorders, Section Chief for Clinical Gastroenterology, and Clinical Director of the Center for Celiac Disease. This enhanced team will dedicate a portion of their time to program expansion, as well as coordinate services for patients whose families lack the ability to manage complex care for their children.
  • New research scientist. Robert O. Heuckeroth, MD, PhD, chair holder of the Irma and Norman Braman Endowed Chair for Research in GI Motility Disorders, has established a novel and innovative neurogastroenterology research program at CHOP. While this program is one of the most successful in the country, there is tremendous need for increased collaborative research. The addition of a second senior scientist will augment the strength and scope of the Lustgarten Center and expand its ability to produce novel research necessary to improve the care of children with motility disorders.
  • Transition of care program. A significant concern of physicians at the Lustgarten Center has been the challenge of transitioning patient care from the pediatric program at CHOP to adult healthcare programs in the region and around the country. Preparation for this transition is a long process best accomplished over a period of years prior to the actual transfer of care. With the expansion of the Center, CHOP will establish a formal program that will prepare and smoothly transition young adults to an appropriate adult center.
  • Fellowship Endowment. The single greatest impediment to the advancement of the motility field is a lack of trained mentors and trainees interested in motility as a career. The Lustgarten Center is one of a handful in the country with the combined and collaborative experience required to train fellows in leading-edge motility research, diagnosis and care. CHOP will establish an endowed fellowship to support world-class training in the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of motility disorders in children.

“We know, from family experience and common knowledge, that CHOP is truly at the top of the game when it comes to pediatric medicine; therefore, we could not be more pleased to be able to play a role in helping to advance the cutting edge of research and clinical care in this important field affecting so many,” said Irma and Norman Braman.

photo of sarah lustgarten Sarah Lustgarten Irma and Norman Braman are prominent philanthropists and civic leaders based in South Florida. The Suzi and Scott Lustgarten Center for GI Motility is named for their daughter, Suzi Braman Lustgarten and her husband, Scott Lustgarten, Philadelphia-area residents who are longtime CHOP supporters. The Braman’s gift is inspired by their granddaughter, Sarah Lustgarten. A student at the University of Miami, Sarah suffers from severe gastroparesis, which restricts her body’s ability to move food out of her stomach. Despite the pain, constant testing and daily challenges of her condition, Sarah remains upbeat and optimistic, saying, “My grandfather told me to always stay positive and try my hardest to never stop fighting.”

In children with GI motility disorders, the esophagus, stomach or intestines do not function normally. The cause of these problems can be difficult to pinpoint, making both diagnosis and treatment difficult. At the Lustgarten Center, patients and their families find a unique multidisciplinary, patient-centered approach that integrates medical, physiological and psychological expertise in evaluation and treatment that is tailored to each child's individual diagnoses.