Family of Physicians Establishes Endowment Fund

Featuring a longstanding passion for reducing health disparities and improving the lives of residents in the most medically underserved communities, the Chen Family Foundation recently donated $3 million to advance research through the Chen Family Endowed Chair to Advance Primary Care and Health Equity Research.

“The foresight, leadership, and dedication of Dr. Chris Chen and his family will propel the University forward in our pursuit of health equity,” Dr. Julio Frenk says, the University of Miami president. “We are incredibly appreciative of their generosity and partnership.”

The donation will enable the Miller School’s Department of Medicine to recruit a leader with extensive experience in primary and population health care, allowing UM to become the leader in primary care and medicine among academic institutions. Once aboard, that expert will be tasked with researching and improving how primary care and health equity are delivered throughout South Florida.

“We are lucky to have Dr. Chris Chen’s expertise as a partner and are excited about the establishment of this new chair, which will enhance the way we look at primary care and how we can make it accessible to all members of our community, developing new models of compassionate delivery,” Roy E. Weiss says, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Medicine and Chief Medical Officer for Ambulatory Services for UHealth. “We are proud to be partnering on such an important health initiative that will ultimately benefit residents throughout our community and beyond.”

The Chen family’s mission to reduce health disparities is based on their Christian faith to serve and help others. That goal was intensified in 2003 after they struggled with the healthcare system. Chen’s father, Jen-ling, was diagnosed with cancer and given only two months to live. He and his family say they experienced what it was like to be on the receiving end of fragmented and unsympathetic health care. After Chen’s father recovered, he soon delved into a new mission; developing a method of delivering medical services that provided a superior level of care and positively impacted patients’ lives, particularly in underserved communities.

“When we began building out ChenMed, we were very much aware of what the delivery system felt like from the other side of the glass,” Chris Chen says, the CEO of ChenMed. “That drives many of our decisions: What would we want if we were in the patient’s shoes? Our goal was to deliver superior patient outcomes and a positive patient experience to a typically underserved population during the most vulnerable time of their lives.”

The result is ChenMed, a concierge-style healthcare practice that strives to be America’s leading primary care provider, transforming the care of the neediest populations. It operates more than 100 primary care medical practices in 15 states, and with its emphasis on preventive care, the organization’s hospital admission rate is 30 to 50% lower than the national average.

“This is why we are investing in the University of Miami,” Dr. Chen says. “The unique UHealth, Miller School, and Jackson partnership that cares for one of the most racially and socioeconomically diverse populations in the U.S. is the perfect place to build the beachhead for this movement in academia.”

The Chen endowment aligns with the Miller School’s commitment to health equity and medical education. The medical school is committed to treating patients respectfully across distinct cultures and ethnicities and furthering its mission to improve health equity.


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