Philanthropy has always been a way of life in the Rabb household. For more than 70 years, Irving Rabb dedicated his time to a number of charities, most prominently Beth Israel Hospital in roles ranging from volunteer during World War II to president of the Board of Directors. “I don’t remember when they weren't connected,” his son, BIDMC gastroenterologist James Rabb, M.D., recalls of his parents’ involvement with the medical center. “My father, the frustrated doctor, was always really fascinated by advances in medicine and interested in hospital and health care issues, delivery to underserved populations, and medical education.” While Irving Rabb left an indelible mark as an institutional leader before he passed away at age 98 last year, his son knows that leaving an enduring legacy of financial support to BIDMC was equally important to him.
To ensure that their family’s commitment to the medical center continues indefinitely, James Rabb and his sister, Betty Schafer, have contributed $250,000 from their parents’ estate to create the Irving W. and Charlotte F. Rabb Endowed Fund for Gastroenterology Research to support translational and clinical research projects aimed at advancing the field and improving the diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal disease. “The idea is to support these scientists during this financially vulnerable phase so that they can continue their investigations and not be forced, for economic reasons, to leave the research environment and enter purely clinical medicine,” says James Rabb.
The first beneficiary of the fund is gastroenterologist Alan Moss, M.D., whose research interests center on Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. He will apply the $10,000 support from this award to his efforts in measuring the content of intestinal fluid for mediators of inflammation. “We have noted that patients with Crohn’s and colitis often shed inflammatory cells and proteins into their intestinal fluid, which can be detected non-invasively,” says Moss, noting that flexible funding is crucial for building on the promise of this kind of early-stage project. “Such markers of inflammation could be used to assess an individual’s response to therapy and assist in management decisions.”