UCSF opens Jeffrey Modell Center to study immunodeficiency disease

By Phyllis Brown


Opening ceremonies for the Jeffrey Modell Foundation
Diagnostic Center for Primary Immunodeficiencies at UCSF


Monday, May 14, 10 a.m.


UCSF Campus
The Paul and Lydia Kalmanovitz Library
530 Parnassus Ave., Fifth Floor
San Francisco


•  Vicki Modell, co-founder, Jeffrey Modell Foundation

•  Fred Modell, co-founder, Jeffrey Modell Foundation

•  Diane Wara, MD, chief, UCSF Division of Pediatric Immunology and Rheumatology

•  Mort Cowan, MD, director, UCSF Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Program

•  Jennifer Puck, MD, director, Jeffrey Modell Foundation Diagnostic Center for Primary Immunodeficiencies at UCSF and director, UCSF Pediatric Clinical Research Center


Media interested in covering the ceremony or arranging interviews with event participants should contact the UCSF News Office at (415) 476-2557.

The Jeffrey Modell Diagnostic Center at UCSF is one of only 34 centers worldwide dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and cure of children suffering from primary immune disorders such as the famed “bubble boy” disease - severe combined immunodeficiency. The UCSF Center will be led by one of the world’s leading authorities on these debilitating and sometimes deadly inherited conditions that can rob sufferers of the ability to fight off infection.

The philanthropic efforts of Fred and Vicki Modell have resulted in the establishment of Jeffrey Modell Centers throughout the United States, Europe and Asia in memory of their son, Jeffrey, who died in 1986 of a primary immune disorder at age 15.

“There is a large, undiagnosed population of children and young adults suffering with these diseases, keeping them from enjoying a full life, as they often miss 30 or 40 days of school every year,” said Vicki Modell. “Their illness interrupts their activities, detours their plans and shatters their dreams.”

Jennifer Puck, MD, who will direct the UCSF Jeffrey Modell Center, is a pioneer in the field of primary immunodeficiency research and care.  She is a professor of pediatrics and human genetics and director of the Pediatric Clinical Research Center at UCSF Children’s Hospital.

Primary immunodeficiency, or PI, is the term for a broad spectrum of inherited illnesses that encompass everything from babies born with no infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes to children and adults with rare and more common difficulties with excessive infections or unbalanced immune reactions that can attack a person’s own tissue. PI diseases can affect males and females of all ages. The most severe forms are present during infancy or childhood but are often misdiagnosed as common sinus or ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia or diarrhea. Failure to diagnose and treat PI can result in serious chronic illness, permanent organ damage and death.

The Jeffrey Modell Foundation was established in 1987 and is dedicated to the early and precise diagnosis, meaningful treatment and ultimate cure of primary immunodeficiencies. More information can be found at
http://www.info4pi.org  or by calling the Foundation hotline at 1-866-INFO-4-PI.

One of the nation’s top children’s hospitals, UCSF Children’s Hospital creates an environment where children and their families find compassionate care at the healing edge of scientific discovery, with more than 150 experts in 50 medical specialties serving patients throughout Northern California and beyond.

UCSF is a leading university that advances health worldwide by conducting advanced biomedical research, educating graduate students in the life sciences and health professions, and providing complex patient care.