Gift empowers experts in digestive diseases

Ron (left) and Lee Matricaria
Ron (left) and Lee Matricaria

Lee Matricaria sought a top doctor in digestive diseases. Looking for someone recognized as a thought leader in the field, he found David T. Rubin, MD, Joseph B. Kirsner Professor of Medicine.

“Dr. Rubin is one of the top doctors in the world for digestive diseases, and he’s right here in Chicago,” Lee said. “He’s very approachable and makes sure his whole team is plugged in, so I don’t have to retell my story every time I see the nutritionist or pharmacist.”

Lee also appreciates Rubin’s access to the latest clinical trials.

“He’s not just a clinician; he also has expertise on the research side, which allows me and other patients to access the newest treatments.” 

Thanks to Lee’s positive patient experience, coupled with a family tradition of giving back, the Matricaria family recently donated $3.5 million to establish and endow the Matricaria Family Professorship in the Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition at the University of Chicago Medicine. The professorship will recognize and support leading digestive disease experts and help to ensure that the University’s gastroenterology program continues to grow and thrive for years to come.

“Through this gift, we hope to empower experts at UChicago Medicine to move the standard of care forward, advance treatments, and ultimately bring relief to people who are suffering from digestive diseases,” Lee said.

Awarded to those who have attained rare distinction in their field, professorships not only honor scholars for their successful careers, but also fuel their exceptional work. Furthermore, they have a profound ripple effect—enabling the University to attract the most talented students, researchers, and faculty; secure competitive research grants; and disseminate new findings to transform patient care.

“The extraordinary gift from the Matricaria family recognizes the amazing teamwork that UChicago Medicine offers our patients with inflammatory bowel disease, and the collaboration with our research scientists,” said Rubin. “Their support enables us to continue our efforts to identify better treatments for our patients, while also answering tough questions about the causes of digestive diseases so we can push the frontiers of science and medicine.”

After meeting with Rubin and his team, the Matricarias were inspired to establish the professorship, with the goal of improving the lives of other patients and families impacted by digestive diseases.

Lee’s father, Ron Matricaria, who has worked in the healthcare industry for more than 50 years, added, “The more our family was exposed to UChicago Medicine, the more its legacy of excellence was validated. We found a group that not only provides compassionate clinical care, but blends that with scientific rigor.”

The Matricarias look forward to the gift’s potential to accelerate the development of new treatment and prevention strategies for digestive diseases, and even lead to research breakthroughs.

“I think the work that Dr. Rubin and his colleagues are pursuing to change the paradigm and standard of care for inflammatory bowel disease and other digestive diseases is realistic—and with some outside support, it can be achievable,” Lee said.

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