$3 Million Gift Establishes LeFrak Center for Robotic Surgery

Leading Robotic Urologic Surgeon Dr. Ash Tewari Named Director of Robotic Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center

May 28, 2009


A $3 million gift from the Richard S. and Karen LeFrak Charitable Foundation will establish the LeFrak Center for Robotic Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The LeFrak Center will focus on robotic treatments for patients with prostate cancer and other urologic conditions, and will support innovative procedures in areas including otolaryngology, obstetrics and gynecology, and ophthalmology. Dr. Ash Tewari, one of the world's foremost robotic urologic surgeons, will lead the new center as the newly appointed director of robotic surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. A dedication ceremony is planned for later this year.

"Robotic surgery is a powerful example of technology's ability to transform patient care, helping patients live longer and more healthful lives," says Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. "We are deeply grateful to the LeFrak family for supporting the creation of a dedicated program in this area. Their leadership and generosity will bring an immediate and lasting benefit to patients."

The LeFrak gift will make possible the purchase of a new da Vinci surgical robot, the third such device at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. The LeFrak Center will also support multidisciplinary research toward innovations in robotic surgery, including support toward the creation of a center to train other physicians in robotic surgical techniques.

"The pioneering work of Dr. Ash Tewari and his colleagues at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell has established robotic surgery as safe and effective, taking full advantage of the technology's incredible precision and dexterity to improve recovery and reduce risk of complications," says Richard S. LeFrak, chairman and CEO of the LeFrak Organization, a leading real-estate development company. "It gives Karen and me great pleasure to support continued work to advance new robotic treatments and enhance care for patients."

Since joining NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell in 2004, Dr. Tewari has performed more than 2,000 robotic procedures for prostate cancer, and has helped develop award-winning techniques that reduce potential risks of surgery, including incontinence and impotence.

"The LeFrak Center for Robotic Surgery will be dedicated to delivering the best possible outcomes, but also to improving the patient experience. From initial consultation through to surgery and follow-up visits, patients can expect treatment with individual attention and compassion," says Dr. Tewari, the Ronald P. Lynch Professor of Urologic Oncology and associate professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College. He also directs a fellowship program in robotic prostatectomy and prostate cancer outcomes at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in America, affecting 1 in 6 men. In 2008, more than 186,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and more than 28,000 men died from the disease. It is estimated that there are more than 2 million American men currently living with prostate cancer.

Dr. Ash Tewari

Dr. Ash Tewari received his medical degree from the GSVM Medical College in Kanpur, India, winning 18 gold medals and honors. He completed specialized training in urology from the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute in Lucknow, India; residency training at the Vattikuti Institute of Urology of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Mich.; and fellowships in urologic oncology at the University of California at San Francisco and the University of Florida at Gainesville. He is a member of several professional societies, including the American Urological Association, Society of Urologic Oncology, Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeon, and Society of Minimally Invasive Therapy and International Quality of Life Research. He is a member of the editorial board of the Gold Journal of Urology and the BJU International, as well as a reviewer for Journal of Urology, Urology, Journal of Endourology, and the British Journal of Urology International. He has published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, including studies of molecular markers, neuroprotective agents, nanotechnology and novel imaging techniques for prostate cancer. He has received awards and honors from the Prostate Cancer Foundation and the American Urological Association.

Robotic Surgery

For prostate cancer patients, research has shown that the robotic approach has numerous improvements over conventional prostatectomy, including smaller, less painful incisions, reduced blood loss and scarring, shorter hospital stay, excellent cancer control, early return of urinary function and low risks of impotency. The da Vinci Surgical System™ by Intuitive Surgical is a state-of-the-art system comprised of a surgeon console and a patient-side robotic mechanism equipped with an endoscopic camera and miniaturized surgical instrumentation. With a magnified, three-dimensional view of the surgical field, the surgeon manipulates instruments with unparalleled precision and flexibility. In prostate cancer surgery, this means an improved ability to operate around the muscles and delicate nerves involved in urination and erections.

The Richard S. and Karen LeFrak Charitable Foundation

The Richard S. and Karen LeFrak Charitable Foundation was founded by Richard S. and Karen LeFrak, and is located in Wilmington, Del. The Foundation supports education, the arts and medical research.

Mr. Richard S. LeFrak

Richard S. LeFrak is chairman and CEO of the LeFrak Organization, a leading building and development company, which owns an extensive portfolio of residential, office, hotel and retail properties. The Company also is an active investor in securities, along with providing capital to specific strategic private investments consistent with its principles. The Company, moreover, is a major investor in gas and oil exploration and production, and wind energy. Mr. LeFrak currently serves on the board of a number of cultural, educational and charitable organizations, including the Board of Trustees of Amherst College, and the Board of Trustees of the Prostate Cancer Foundation. He also has previously served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Museum of Natural History, and on the Board of Trustees of the Trinity School.

Mrs. Karen T. LeFrak

Karen T. LeFrak is a philanthropic New Yorker, involved in many charitable endeavors throughout the city and state. A member of the Board of Directors of New York Philharmonic, she chairs its Music Policy, serves on the Marketing and Education Committees, and had been an archival curator of exhibits. She also has been a member of the New York State Council on the Arts, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Hunter College Symphony Orchestra. Ms. LeFrak continues to be an active board member of the Women's Committee of the Central Park Conservancy after completing her tenure as its president for which she received the Frederick Law Olmsted Award. Ms. LeFrak is a member of the administrative board of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and is the former vice president of the Center's "Dream Team," which grants wishes to terminally ill patients.

For more information, patients may call 866-NYP-NEWS.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, located in New York City, is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical College, the medical school of Cornell University. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, education, research and community service. Weill Cornell physician-scientists have been responsible for many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer; the synthesis of penicillin; the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S.; the first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson's disease; the first indication of bone marrow's critical role in tumor growth; and, most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/The Allen Pavilion. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. Weill Cornell Medical College is the first U.S. medical college to offer a medical degree overseas and maintains a strong global presence in Austria, Brazil, Haiti, Tanzania, Turkey and Qatar. For more information, visit Weill Cornell Medical College.

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