Longtime UC Irvine supporters donate $5 million for integrative cardiology

Gift to the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute supports heart research, education and health coaching 

April 13, 2021
Linda and Mike Mussallem have donated $5 million to UC Irvine to support integrative cardiology care and research at the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute.

“We recognize the importance of whole-person health for patients who are undergoing cardiovascular treatment journeys and, more importantly, the need for a science-based approach to this aspect of their care,” say Linda and Mike Mussallem.

A $5 million gift to the University of California, Irvine from Linda and Mike Mussallem will support integrative cardiology care, training and research in the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute and initiate a UC system-wide health coaching program.

“We are thrilled to receive this very generous gift,” said UCI Health cardiologist Dr. Shaista Malik, associate vice chancellor for integrative health and the institute's executive director.

“Linda and Mike’s commitment to further advance science-based research and provide educational opportunities for the next generation of healthcare providers truly speaks to their long-standing partnership with us in transforming how healthcare is delivered to patients.”

The Mussallems’ donation will be used to create an innovative integrative cardiology programa at the institute, including a fellowship and a research platform to assess how integrating lifestyle, complementary therapies and digital health tools can improve cardiometabolic health.

In addition, the gift will support the launch of an integrative health coaching certificate program to address the shortage of trained professionals.

Linda Mussallem is an integrative health advocate and serves on the institute’s advisory board, and Mike Mussallem is chairman and CEO of Irvine-based Edwards Lifesciences. He is also a trustee of the UCI Foundation, which supports UCI’s core missions of teaching, research and public service.

Whole-person health

“We recognize the importance of whole-person health for patients who are undergoing cardiovascular treatment journeys and, more importantly, the need for a science-based approach to this aspect of their care,” said Linda and Mike Mussallem.

“We are proud to support the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute as their team pursues patient education, innovative studies and data collection for whole-person health.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease accounts for about 655,000 deaths and costs the nation more than $200 billion each year. Research has shown that integrative approaches such as nutrition counseling, mindfulness and exercise can not only prevent heart disease, but also improve overall health and well-being for patients.

“UCI is committed to whole-person care that focuses on prevention and personalized treatment plans that include evidence-based integrative approaches,” said Dr. Steve Goldstein, vice chancellor for health affairs.

“This generous gift from the Mussallems will help us to discover new methods of treating cardiac patients, provide those techniques to patients to prevent and treat heart disease, and pass them on to the next generation of physicians.”

Integrative cardiology training

By supporting both education and research, the gift will create a world-class integrative cardiology program to train future leaders.

The fellows in this program will receive the same training and inpatient exposure that their general cardiology co-fellows do, but they’ll also focus on preventive and integrative approaches, such as nutrition, acupuncture, meditation and mindfulness.

The gift will also establish an integrative cardiology registry, or patient database. Researchers at UCI and beyond will be able to access this to better understand through the use of “big data” how lifestyle changes combined with conventional and complementary interventions affect outcomes for cardiac patients. 

Studies, including randomized clinical trials, have shown that outcomes improve when patients have a health coach to reinforce behavioral changes.

“This program, based at the UCI Health academic health system, will launch health coaches into the greater healthcare system and presents an extraordinary opportunity for them to be part of team-based care and be deployed in areas outside the medical arena, such as employer wellness programs or digital health solutions,” Malik said.

UCI Health is the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine. Patients can access UCI Health at primary and specialty care offices across Orange County and at its main campus, UCI Medical Center in Orange, California. The 418-bed acute care hospital provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, as well as behavioral health and rehabilitation services. UCI Medical Center is home to Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma center and regional burn center. UCI Health serves a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.