Dr. James W. Ostroff Named to Rainin Professorship

reprinted from Issue 12, Spring 2011 of Frontiers of Medicine (PDF)

James W. Ostroff, MD, the Lynne and Marc Benioff Endowed Chair in Gastroenterology, has been named the first faculty member to hold the Kenneth Rainin Distinguished Professorship in Gastrointestinal Disease. Ostroff, the director of the endoscopy unit and gastrointestinal consultative service at UCSF Medical Center, will hold both endowed positions.

An exceptional inventor and entrepreneur, Kenneth Rainin founded the Rainin Instrument Company at the age of 25, which initially distributed laboratory instruments and supplies. He is perhaps best known for securing the rights to sell a line of laboratory pipettes, making design improvements that built the Pipetman into the dominant brand of pipettes used in laboratories.

Rainin, who passed away in 2007, also suffered from ulcerative colitis – one of the two most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The disease causes diarrhea, abdominal pain and fatigue; current treatments can help patients go into remission, but there is not yet a cure.

The care he received at UCSF from Ostroff and others inspired him to make several major gifts during his lifetime. After his passing, Rainin also made an $18 million gift to the UCSF School of Medicine through his trust. Three million went to the Department of Neurology – Rainin received care at UCSF for a stroke late in life – and $15 million to the Division of Gastroenterology.

As part of that gift, the Kenneth Rainin Distinguished Professorship in Gastrointestinal Disease was created, and Ostroff, Rainin’s gastroenterologist for many years, was appointed as the inaugural holder of the position.

“Dr. Ostroff provided outstanding care for my father, and our family is delighted that he was appointed as the inaugural holder of the Kenneth Rainin Distinguished Professorship in Gastro-intestinal Disease. We hope this endowed position will help to support discoveries that will improve the lives of many other people in the years to come.”

“I was extremely honored to be proposed for this position,” says Ostroff. “Mr. Rainin was a brilliant and innovative man who had an unusual knack for seeing into the future in perfecting technologies. We hope that this gift will help us advance gastroenterology in the spirit that he had, particularly in the realm of non-optical imaging in endoscopy, which we regard as the future for surveillance and the prevention of neoplasms.” We also have a large group of patients with impending liver failure as a consequence of the immunological effects of inflammatory bowel disease. We hope that this professorship will also help us use technology as a more effective bridge towards liver transplantation.

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