IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME, but it should not end there. Family and good friends Dr. Benjamin Kagan, his wife Katherine Kagan, Bernard Sidell and Pescha Sidell, Dr. Kagan’s sister, took this to heart when they established the Sidell-Kagan Foundation in 1966. The foundation initially funded a broad range of medical and clinical research, but it narrowed its focus to supporting Alzheimer's disease (AD) research when Dr. Kagan was diagnosed with the disease in 1995.
Dr. Kagan, who formerly served as the chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, was treated for AD at UCLA by Dr. Jeffrey L. Cummings, then director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA, and director of the Deane F. Johnson Center for Neurotherapeutics at UCLA. Dr. Kagan received the only drug approved at the time to help slow AD progression. The Kagans were so impressed with the treatment that they decided to fund studies on the diagnosis and treatment of patients with AD and other dementias and related neurological disorders. In May 1996, the Sidell-Kagan Foundation gave $2.2 million to the UCLA Department of Neurology, and it has made additional gifts, ranging from $270,000 to $400,000, every year since to specifically fund UCLA clinical trials in AD.
“We are deeply grateful to the Sidell-Kagan Foundation for their generous and enduring support for more than two decades, which has made the Kagan Program a preeminent and exemplary model for other clinical trial programs,” said Dr. Keith Vossel, director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA, and director of the Katherine and Benjamin Kagan Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment Development Program at UCLA. Dr. Kagan, who died from a heart attack in 1997, was fortunate to have dramatically benefited from his treatment. Mrs. Kagan was devoted to her husband and to providing a special quality of life for him. Ahead of her time, she modified their single-level home to accommodate her husband’s disability and diminishing mental capacity. The home featured a wheelchairaccessible swimming pool, a disabled-accessible bathtub, and even an independent generator to support medical equipment in case of a power failure.
Mrs. Kagan also was passionate in her desire to help researchers develop better treatments for AD. The Sidell-Kagan Foundation, which the Kagans headed, committed long-term funding for AD research and established the Katherine and Benjamin Kagan Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment Development Program at UCLA.
Funding from the Sidell- Kagan Foundation enables the UCLA Department of Neurology to recruit and retain preeminent physicians and researchers and pursue the most rigorous and scientifically sound studies that are on the leading-edge of Alzheimer’s therapeutics. The program provides access to the latest experimental therapies and offers eligible patients participation in various memory and dementia research studies. In addition to helping advance clinical trials in AD, UCLA is able to significantly enhance its outreach activities, community engagement and education in the community. The program also provides important transportation coverage for those living farther away from the Westwood campus. These activities and initiatives are essential to providing full access to advanced studies in Alzheimer’s diagnosis and therapeutics to the diverse population of greater Los Angeles.
After Mrs. Kagan’s death in 2000, the foundation continued its commitment to funding clinical trials for AD under the leadership of foundation president Jeannette Hahm Lewis and Jodi Behrman, CFO of the Sidell-Kagan Foundation. Since 1996, the Sidell-Kagan Foundation has followed its passion and has given UCLA gifts in excess of $12 million, enabling the Katherine and Benjamin Kagan Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment Development Program at UCLA to become a world leader in therapeutic investigations for AD.
“Mrs. Kagan enjoyed seeing her philanthropy going directly to those for whom it was meant,” said Hahm Lewis. “She loved getting to know the people whom she helped, including doctors, researchers and nursing staff, and once described it as ‘the gift I get.’ That in itself is so meaningful.”
For more information, contact Christopher Carbado at: 310-562-6498.