AS THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC unfolded, Dr. Anne Rimoin (MPH ’96), a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and director of FSPH’s Center for Global and Immigrant Health, became a steady media presence as a trusted source for evidence-based public health information on issues related to risk and prevention. The integral role taken on by Rimoin, an internationally recognized expert on emerging infections and infectious disease surveillance systems who has been engaged in pandemic preparedness and response work for more than two decades, came as no surprise to Tom D. Gordon, a longtime FSPH supporter who serves on the school’s Board of Advisors.
In early 2020, Rimoin had been a guest speaker at an FSPH board meeting. “She absolutely blew me away with her knowledge and ability to communicate clearly on these complex issues,” Gordon recalls. “And as I got to know her better, I knew it was critical to make sure her work was well supported.”
The Gordon-Levin Endowed Chair in Infectious Diseases and Public Health was established at FSPH in 2021 by a $2 million gift from Gordon; his wife, Edna Gordon, an active philanthropist; and the Don S. Levin Trust. The chair supports the teaching and research activities of a faculty member with expertise in the epidemiology, transmission, and control of infectious diseases, especially emerging pathogens; and the ability to effectively communicate the impact of these diseases on public health.
In January 2023, 75 friends and family of the Gordons and Rimoin, along with members of the FSPH community, gathered at the Fowler Museum at UCLA for a ceremony celebrating the Gordons and Don S. Levin Trust for their vision in establishing the chair, and the appointment of Rimoin as the inaugural chair holder. “My goal was to have an event that would increase awareness and inspire others to support public health, but also to celebrate the great work Dr. Rimoin is doing in these turbulent times,” Gordon says.
The son of Holocaust survivors whose family moved to the U.S. when he was 3, Gordon graduated from UCLA with a degree in economics and went on to a career that culminated in his becoming executive vice president of Cedars-Sinai Health System. The endowed chair, the fifth at FSPH and the second established by Tom and Edna Gordon and the Don S. Levin Trust, has helped to shine an even brighter spotlight on the work of Rimoin, who is founding director of the UCLA-DRC Health Research and Training Program — based at FSPH and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Rimoin has worked with local collaborators for nearly two decades. As a leading expert on mpox, Rimoin has provided advice to the State of California, the White House, and the World Health Organization following the height of the global mpox outbreak in 2022. She has continued to be featured widely by international, national, and local broadcast, radio, print, and online media outlets throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and mpox outbreak, providing expertise and evidence-based guidance on the latest developments. STAT News recently named her to its 2023 STATUS List, “the ultimate list of leaders in life sciences.”
“While infectious disease outbreaks are inevitable, pandemics are preventable with strong investments in public health systems that allow for the rapid identification and control of new emerging pathogens,” Rimoin says. “I am proud to have worked with incredibly talented colleagues and students at home and abroad on these efforts, and am grateful to Tom and Edna Gordon and the Don S. Levin Trust for the recognition and support that comes with this prestigious chair.”
Endowed chairs are vital to UCLA Fielding’s efforts to attract and retain outstanding faculty. Once established, they provide a dedicated source of funds in perpetuity for the chair holder’s scholarly activities, as well as support for graduate fellowships. An appointment to an endowed chair represents the highest honor a university can bestow upon a professor.