Dr. Eric Melvin

The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA has established a center for holistic, patient-centered treatment, research and education related to disorders of the esophagus.

The new center is named in memory of Robert G. Kardashian, a prominent Los Angeles attorney who died of esophageal cancer in 2003. Kardashian’s family will launch fundraising efforts to provide resources for the center’s key initiatives and activities.

The Robert G. Kardashian Center for Esophageal Health, which is based in the UCLA Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, combines UCLA Health’s collective expertise in gastroenterology, surgery, oncology, anesthesiology, radiology, pathology and pediatrics to gain new insights into the causes of these disorders and to develop new prevention and treatment strategies. The Robert G. Kardashian Center will collaborate with the Melvin and Bren Simon Digestive Diseases Center and the Manoukian Division’s Integrative Digestive Health and Wellness Program to provide individualized care to patients.

“I am grateful for my friendship with the Kardashian family and this partnership, which will make a difference in patients’ lives for decades to come,” said Dr. Eric Esrailian, chief of the Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases. “We hope the family’s commitment inspires even more support from our community of friends — positioning the Robert G. Kardashian Center as a leader in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of esophageal conditions. This is just the beginning.”

Rates of esophageal cancer have increased dramatically in recent years. Evidence suggests lifestyle and the presence of gastroesophageal reflux disease play a role. Esophageal cancer, which has few symptoms, often goes undetected but is treatable if caught early — especially with the most innovative approaches.

“Our family is proud to pay tribute to our father by partnering with UCLA Health to establish the Robert G. Kardashian Center for Esophageal Health,” Kim Kardashian West said. “We look forward to working with our longtime family friend, Dr. Eric Esrailian, the Melvin and Bren Simon Digestive Diseases Center, and the UCLA Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases to build the best program of its kind in the country. We hope to save lives and help the community for many years to come in honor of our father.”

The Kardashian Center will utilize state-of-the-art treatments, recruit top faculty from around the world, invest in training specialists and raise awareness of the causes and treatment of esophageal disease.

“Establishing critical centers of excellence, combining comprehensive care, research and education enables our institution to bring patients, physicians, scientists and staff together with a specific focus and with the potential to have maximal impact for our community,” said Dr. John Mazziotta, vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences and CEO of UCLA Health. “The Robert G. Kardashian Center for Esophageal Health will be yet another important pillar for UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in our efforts to advance patient care and science for years to come.”

The establishment of the center and the Kardashian family’s fundraising initiative were celebrated April 16 — during Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month — at a campus event attended by the family and by other friends of the university.

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