If we can do more to prevent, treat and cure cardiovascular disease, more women will live longer, more families will stay together, more workers will stay productive, and we’ll save money on treating a condition that costs the U.S. nearly a billion dollars a day.
– WHA Co-founders Barbra Streisand and Ronald O. Perelman
Who We Are
At the Women’s Heart Alliance, our mission is to prevent women from needlessly facing and dying from heart disease and stroke. That’s why we’re focused on an area too long neglected in research, prevention, and care: The differences between men and women.
Many people are surprised to learn that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States (US). In fact, heart disease kills more women in the US each year than all cancers combined. And women are at greater risk of dying in the year following a heart attack than are men: 1 in 4 women will die within one year of their heart attack, compared to 1 in 5 men.
When it comes to heart disease and stroke, women and men are not the same. Women’s hearts are smaller. Their risk factors can be different. Their symptoms can be different. Their response to therapies can be different.
Yet, most of the research on heart disease and stroke is conducted on men. Most of our diagnostic tools were validated on men. Most treatments were tested on men. And, too often, health professionals aren’t aware of these disparities—and too many patients aren’t either.
Our Alliance draws attention to these sex differences and promotes activities that raise awareness and drive change—whether we’re working with local communities, college students, medical experts, or policymakers.
We want health equity.
We want to change research practices, so that women are equally represented in the lab and the clinic.
We want to empower women to take their heart health into their own hands—especially younger women and minorities. Eighty percent of heart disease and strokes can be prevented by lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and treating high blood pressure!
We want to improve the quality of care women receive for their heart health—so that every woman can access the support she needs, and every health care provider knows how to provide it.
And for those women who do suffer a heart attack or stroke, we want to increase their odds of survival.
With so many women’s lives at stake, we have to make this a priority. For the mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, and friends that we love—and for a better, healthier future for us all.
The Women’s Heart Alliance is a unique collaboration between two of America’s leading medical institutions—the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center—and two major philanthropists and leaders in business and entertainment, Barbra Streisand and Ronald O. Perelman.
The Medical Institutions
The Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, founded in 2012, is playing a leading role in identifying female-pattern heart disease, developing new diagnostic tools and advancing specialized care for women. The Institute is working to correct gender inequalities in heart disease diagnosis and treatment, as well as to educate women on how to recognize female-pattern heart disease symptoms. It provides convenient access to all of Cedars-Sinai’s heart disease diagnostic and treatment resources and is designed to help women reduce their chances of heart disease through a preventative approach, including state-of-the-art screening and testing.
The Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, led by a renowned medical team, provides patients with the very latest technology and treatment options. The Perelman Heart Institute recognizes that women are largely unaware of their risk for heart disease and is dedicated to bridging the gender gap in heart disease information and medical outcomes. The Institute provides women, and all patients, access to state-of-the-art care, a stellar medical team, an education resource center and a supportive community.
Barbra Streisand, Co-Founder
Barbra Streisand is the best-selling female recording artist in history – and the only artist to ever receive an Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Directors Guild of America, Golden Globe, National Medal of Arts and Peabody Award, as well as France’s Légion d’Honneur, the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And in 2008, she became the only female director to receive The Kennedy Center Honors. Ms. Streisand is the only recording artist in history to achieve a number one album in six consecutive decades.
A true Renaissance woman, Ms. Streisand’s civil rights activism and philanthropic pursuits are equally as impressive. As a lifelong, passionate philanthropist and political activist, she has given and raised millions of dollars to combat some of the most pressing social and political issues of our time in both the U.S. and around the world. A champion for the most vulnerable with a sense of responsibility to heal the world that grows out of her Jewish heritage, Ms. Streisand and her Foundation have tackled a wide variety of issues, including women’s health and women’s equality, civil rights and voting rights, educational opportunity, and the preservation of the planet by working to combat the potential catastrophic effects of climate change.
Making the movie Yentl early in her career ignited Ms. Streisand’s passion for ensuring that women get the same chances in life as men. And more recently, upon learning that women’s heart disease is often symptomatically and physiologically different from men’s heart disease, yet has been historically under-researched, under-funded and under-diagnosed, Ms. Streisand is again using her voice to bring about change.
In 2008, she gave millions of dollars to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for the Barbra Streisand Women’s Cardiovascular Research and Education Program and in 2012 she founded the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, for which she donated and raised millions of additional dollars. In 2014, Ms. Streisand along with Ronald O. Perelman co-founded the Women’s Heart Alliance (WHA) to raise awareness, encourage action and drive new research to fight women’s heart disease, with a goal of dramatically reducing cardiovascular-related illness and death among women. WHA is the only heart-related organization that looks at the impact of heart disease and stroke on women exclusively. No stranger to Washington, Ms. Streisand has met with senior leaders in Congress and the Executive branch to advocate for equitable representation in medical research to further study the unique impact of heart disease on women.
Read Ms. Streisand’s op-ed, “The battle for women’s hearts — and lives,” in The Washington Post.
Ronald O. Perelman, Co-Founder
As Chairman and CEO of MacAndrews & Forbes Incorporated, Mr. Perelman is known not only as an accomplished industrialist but also a leading philanthropist and champion of women’s health. In 2008, he established the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and the Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical Center.
He also founded the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program, which developed the most effective treatment for breast cancer, Herceptin. In April 2014, he made a transformative gift to NYU Langone Medical Center to create the Ronald O. Perelman Center for Emergency Services – tripling the size of the former emergency department in New York City. Mr. Perelman is also a founding patron of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center.
Read Mr. Perelman’s op-ed, “Taking Women’s Health to Heart” in USA Today.
Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz, Scientific Advisor
Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz is Director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center and the Linda Joy Pollin Women’s Heart Health Program at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, where she is a Professor of Medicine. She is currently chair of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored WISE (Women’s Ischemic Syndrome Evaluation) initiative and has served on the advisory boards of nonprofit organizations, including WomenHeart and Sister to Sister. Dr. Bairey Merz has an extensive scientific publication record in numerous peer-reviewed journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Circulation, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and the Journal of Women’s Health.
Watch Dr. Bairey Merz’s TED talk, “The single biggest health threat women face.”
Dr. Holly Andersen, Medical Advisor
A leading authority on preventive cardiology, Dr. Holly Andersen is the Director of Education and Outreach at the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. In this role, Dr. Andersen serves as Attending Cardiologist and oversees patient education, community outreach and prevention efforts with the goal of reducing cardiovascular disease risk, especially among women. She is also Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and currently serves on the Boards of Trustees of the International Women’s Health Coalition; Rockefeller University, where she is also a member of the Women and Science Committee; and at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College.
Board of Directors
- Barbra Streisand
Co-Chair, Women’s Heart Alliance
Activist and Philanthropist
- Ronald O. Perelman
Co-Chair, Women’s Heart Alliance
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, MacAndrews & Forbes Inc.
- Art Ochoa
Co-Vice Chair, Women’s Heart Alliance
Senior Vice President, Community Relations and Development, Chief Development Officer Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
- Dr. Laura Forese
President of NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System
- Margery Tabankin
Former Philanthropic advisor to Barbra Streisand
- Rupa Balasubramanian
Vice President, Fundamental & Philanthropic advisor to Barbra Streisand
- Carolyn Halik
Director, Vascular Service Line, Heart Failure Services, NYP/CU, New York-Presbyterian Hospital
Scientific and Medical Advisors
- Dr. Holly Andersen
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Attending Cardiologist
Director of Education and Outreach, Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center
- Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz
Director of the Women’s Heart Center and Professor of Medicine, Cedar-Sinai Institute