CHOP celebrates $5M gift for Lustgarten Center for GI Motility

New center will offer full services for pediatric digestive disorders

Published on in CHOP News

A $5 million gift from Irma and Norman Braman launched the Suzi and Scott Lustgarten Center for GI Motility, a new center of excellence at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The Center is poised to offer the most comprehensive clinical and research program in pediatric gastrointestinal motility disorders.

"Getting an accurate diagnosis for a GI disorder is a long and challenging process, before doctors even begin to explore the right treatment," said Norman Braman. “Complex digestive conditions harm the physical and emotional well-being of many children, but GI research is severely undervalued and underfunded. We want to help families through this painful journey and offer children everywhere happier childhoods and healthier futures.”

The Bramans are prominent philanthropists and civic leaders based in South Florida. Mr. Braman, the founder and head of Braman Enterprises, also owned the Philadelphia Eagles from 1985 to 1994.

Center Named For Braman's Daughter and Husband

The new center is named for Norman and Irma’s daughter, Suzi Braman Lustgarten, and her husband Scott Lustgarten, Philadelphia-area residents who are longtime supporters of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Among other activities, Mr. Lustgarten is president of the Auto Dealers CARing for Kids Foundation, which supports Children’s Hospital and other charities.

“We are extremely grateful to the Braman Family for their support of Children’s Hospital over the years, and particularly for their leadership in establishing the Lustgarten Center,” said Steven M. Altschuler, MD, chief executive officer of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “This new center will advance an important area in pediatrics, delivering state-of-the-art GI care for children while developing treatment innovations that we can share with other pediatric hospitals.”

In motility disorders, such as gastroparesis, irritable bowel syndrome, and GE reflux disease, problems in a child’s GI tract interfere with normal functioning, and may result in impaired digestion, nutritional problems, pain and chronic disability.

While relatively common in children, functional GI disorders have traditionally lacked readily identifiable causes, and research and treatment efforts have often lagged behind those for other pediatric diseases.

GI Motility Complements Existing CHOP Programs

The new GI Motility program will complement other outstanding GI research and clinical programs at Children’s Hospital, involving food allergy, celiac disease, eosinophilic disorders and inflammatory bowel disease. These large programs, drawing on patients from throughout the world, offer an interdisciplinary treatment model that maximizes efficiency for clinicians and creates an ideal patient experience for children and families.

The Lustgarten Center will provide world-class diagnostic resources in a new GI Motility Laboratory, offering a full spectrum of services unavailable at most children’s hospitals. A Motility Disorders Clinic will offer integrated patient-centered services, including psychological therapies, access to clinical trials, coordination of care with other healthcare providers, and long-term follow-up focused on the patient’s quality of life.

Expanding Research to Improve Lives

Two endowed chairs are being established within the new center: the Irma and Norman Braman Endowed Chair for Research in GI Motility Disorders, and the Suzi and Scott Lustgarten Endowed Chair for Clinical Care of GI Motility Disorders. The Center will expand research in functional GI and other motility disorders by availing itself of the large clinical population at Children’s Hospital and collaborating with existing research programs in pediatric genomics and stem cell therapies.

Finally, the Lustgarten Center will establish a fellowship program to train new clinicians in functional GI and motility disorders, and will provide resources for patient and family education, as well as learning tools for primary care and family practice physicians.