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Steven Strauss and Lise Wilson Cardiomyopathy Center

Cardiomyopathy, a serious cardiac condition which often goes undiagnosed, is estimated to affect approximately 1 in 500 people in the U.S. And it may affect as many as 1 in 200 people.

The Steven Strauss and Lise Wilson Cardiomyopathy Center was established in 2021 with a gift of $3.25 million from Steven M. Strauss and Lise N. Wilson to advance research on the condition and ultimately find better ways of identifying and treating cardiomyopathy. The couple also created a match to raise an additional $1.75 million, for a total of $5 million to support the center. The challenge was successfully met in late 2023.

Supported by this generous philanthropy, the Steven Strauss and Lise Wilson Cardiomyopathy Center will host its inaugural Cardiomyopathy Precision Medicine Symposium in La Jolla, Calif., on May 3, 2024. Learn more at the symposium website.

A Growing Cardiac Concern

Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death worldwide. One of these illnesses, cardiomyopathy, is a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body. Causes include inherited disease, infection and heart attacks. Discovered in the 1950s, cardiomyopathy affects people of all ages, genders and races. Ultimately, it can lead to heart failure and is a common cause of death, including sudden death. 

Cardiomyopathy is also the leading cause of hospitalization at the Cardiovascular Institute at UC San Diego Health, which includes Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center. Funding for the Steven Strauss and Lise Wilson Cardiomyopathy Center, an innovative research collaborative dedicated to the treatment of this devastating illness, is essential to help fuel cardiomyopathy research for better treatments, diagnosis and prevention of the condition. Currently, there is no cure. But we believe there can be — you can help.

At the Heart of the Matter

cardiac CT of a human heart
Cardiac CT of the human heart

The mission of the Steven Strauss and Lise Wilson Cardiomyopathy Center is to improve the lives of people with cardiomyopathy by:

  • Restoring health and well-being to those with heart failure — both from the local community and around the world — by providing outstanding and holistic care
  • Developing critical insights into the causes, diagnosis and treatment of cardiomyopathy
  • Educating the future generations of clinicians and scientists with a commitment to providing a diverse and inclusive environment for them and our allied health providers

The diagnosis of cardiomyopathy can be life changing, but with the right treatment and support, most people can live full and active lives. In order to fulfill our mission, we are developing:

  • Tools for identifying patients at risk for cardiomyopathy and sudden death
  • Models of disease that will elucidate key mechanisms of disease
  • Devices to identify disease progression, relieve suffering and improve heart transplantation
  • New medicines and vaccines to treat and ultimately cure patients

Steven Strauss and Lise Wilson Cardiomyopathy Center Director Eric David Adler, MD

Dr Adler
Eric D. Adler, MD
Director, Cardiac Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support
Professor of Medicine

Through his innovative approach to research in the lab and leadership in clinic, Dr. Eric Adler is leading the Steven Strauss and Lise Wilson Cardiomyopathy Center with the goal of driving research and discovery of treatments that could dramatically improve life expectancy and quality of life for people with cardiomyopathy. Dr. Adler believes that the power to change how we understand and treat disease lies in the dynamic interaction between research and clinical care.

Dr. Adler is a board-certified cardiologist and medical director of heart transplant and mechanical circulatory support — a program that is nationally recognized as having the best one-year survival rates in the country. He specializes in advanced heart failure, mechanical circulatory support and cardiac transplantation.

As a professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, Dr. Adler conducts research on the use of stem cells to treat cardiovascular disease. He is also an investigator for many clinical trials for all stages of heart failure, has conducted promising studies using gene therapy to treat Danon disease in mouse models, and has teamed up with an astrophysicist to develop machine learning tools to improve risk prediction of heart failure. The implications for Dr. Adler’s work are astounding. In the future, it will be possible to scale his advancement in the field of personalized health care and medicine. If his treatments work, they can be used as blueprints for therapies to treat a multitude of diseases.

Adler Lab Team

Adler Lab team members outside the laboratory

To Educate the Future Generation of Thought Leaders

Research fellows from around the world come to San Diego to perform leading-edge research on:

  • Basic Mechanisms of Disease
  • Cell and Animal Models of Disease
  • Drug/Device Discovery
  • Informatics/Machine Learning

A Tradition of Innovation 

UC San Diego Health has established itself as a health care destination and leader in the field of cardiomyopathy, one of just five medical centers in California designated as a center of excellence by the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association. This new center has further solidified our ability to deliver transformative care to the people who need it most. Research objectives at the center are anticipated to include:

  • Determining the trajectory of disease in patients with genetic cardiomyopathies using pluripotent stem cells, animal models of disease and clinical data
  • Developing novel strategies for modulating aberrant pathways central to the pathobiology of cardiomyopathy.
    These strategies may include small molecules as well as cell and gene therapies
  • Identifying how cell metabolism and autophagy lead to myocyte hypertrophy and cell death

The Power to Make a Difference

Steven M. Strauss and Lise N Wilson
Steven M. Strauss and Lise N. Wilson

The Steven Strauss and Lise Wilson Cardiomyopathy Center is the first of its kind in the region. With your support, we can continue to accelerate and scale Dr. Adler's important work and leadership in the treatment of cardiomyopathy. It is a new era of health care where his work can be a blueprint for future personalized therapies. With our relationship with local pharmaceutical companies, there is potential for the National Institutes of Health to award grants to further this work as well, meaning that your investment can help secure additional funding in the future.

Dr. Adler is currently working in a virtual incubator, but the center’s partnerships are growing globally, with collaborations with teams in Italy, Germany and Israel, to name a few. Private philanthropy will play a key role in allowing us to drive research and clinical care with the potential to make a real and lasting difference for patients with cardiomyopathy around the world.

We invite you to join us in pioneering research and treatment of cardiomyopathy. Your philanthropic partnership will help us significantly accelerate drug discoveries and improve care for patients in San Diego and around the world.

To learn more, contact Helen Liu at or to make an online gift, click here.