Ana Chirino Adler knows only too well the pain and suffering caused by inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. Her father succumbed to Crohn’s disease in 1980 and her daughter, Kristina, deals with ulcerative colitis on a daily basis.
It’s why Chirino Adler recently honored Maria T. Abreu, M.D., director of the University of Miami Health System Crohn’s and Colitis Center, with a $100,000 gift to support her research into treatments and cures for IBD. Chirino Adler made the announcement during a private event celebrating Dr. Abreu’s recent accolade as one of three recipients of the 2019 Sherman Prize, which recognizes pioneering work in the fight to overcome Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
“We need to end this devastating disease,” Chirino Adler said. “I am deeply moved by Dr. Abreu’s dedication to finding a cure and her impeccable patient care and compassion.”
Dr. Abreu said the Chirino Adler family’s generosity will go a long way in accelerating innovative new discoveries.
“We owe our Crohn’s and Colitis Center to Ana Chirino. She was my first supporter and saw the vision to build a center to care for patients like Kristy,” said Dr. Abreu, who is also a professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology, and the Martin H. Kalser Chair in Gastroenterology.
Dr. Abreu founded the Crohn’s and Colitis Center to provide a place where families affected by IBD can receive specialized and comprehensive care. Established in 2013, the Crohn’s and Colitis Center provides personalized medicine programs for patients while creating the optimal environment for cutting-edge clinical research led by Dr. Abreu.
Since 2009, Chirino Adler has given $350,000 to support Dr. Abreu’s research and help establish and advance the success of the center, which she calls an “oasis of recovery” – an essential space where IBD patients can find integrated support from nutrition counseling to surgical intervention, all under one roof.
“Things would have been very different for my father if Dr. Abreu’s research and practice had been available to us,” Chirino Adler said. “Now patients like my daughter have hope. We are so lucky to have this premier doctor in our own back yard.”
Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School, thanked Chirino Adler for her generous support.
“We are grateful to Ms. Ana Chirino Adler for her trust and unwavering belief in Dr. Abreu,” said Dean Ford. “Her generosity and vision make all the difference in our fight against IBD, while paying tribute to one of our brightest medical talents.”
Millions of people worldwide suffer from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which are chronic, inflammatory diseases that damage the gastrointestinal tract. While there are effective treatments, there is no cure and available medicines do not work for everyone.
Dr. Abreu is making singular breakthroughs in understanding and treating IBD and colon cancer. She has spearheaded the South Florida IBD database and biobank, a unique resource to better understand the emergence of IBD in recent immigrants from Latin America, while providing the data needed to innovate on treatment interventions through clinical trials.
The Adler family has donated more than $500,000 to life-changing efforts at the University of Miami from eliminating IBD to curing blindness -- significant contributions that continue to advance innovative research and world-class patient care.