LA JOLLA–The 17th annual Heart of San Diego Gala, hosted by the University of California, San Diego Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, will pay tribute to philanthropist and renowned fashion designer Zandra Rhodes on March 1 at The US Grant Hotel. In addition, the gala will celebrate the memory of the late Duane Roth, former CEO of Connect and a long-time supporter of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center who passed away last year. The event will include a cocktail reception, dinner and dancing.

Net proceeds from this year’s Heart of San Diego Gala will be designated to the cardiac rehabilitation center housed in the Hospital for Advanced Surgery at the Jacobs Medical Center (opening in 2016). Proceeds will be matched, dollar for dollar, through the Challenge for Jacobs Medical Center. In addition, net proceeds of the gala will be matched, dollar for dollar, by UC San Diego Health System to support the valvular heart disease program at the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center. The new Hospital for Advanced Surgery will complement patient care already offered at the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center.

“At UC San Diego, it is part of our mission to conduct translational research and provide advanced patient care in order to save and improve lives,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “The Heart of San Diego Gala is an important fundraising event that supports that mission and helps us to achieve our goals.”

In addition to providing sustained support for the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, Rhodes—who has designed for Diana, Princess of Wales; Jackie Onassis; Elizabeth Taylor; and Sarah Jessica Parker, among others—volunteers her time and talents each year to design the invitations and collectable items for Heart of San Diego Gala attendees. She also served as a founding member of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center board. The gala will feature a showcase of costumes which Rhodes created for the Houston Grand Opera’s acclaimed production of the Verdi opera “Aida.”

“This year, we pay tribute to Zandra Rhodes, who has been a steadfast and loyal supporter of the center and the Heart of San Diego Gala from its inception nearly two decades ago,” said Ehtisham Mahmud, MD, director of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center – Medicine. “This annual event provides essential funding to ensure that our physicians and researchers can continue pursuing new breakthroughs in treating and preventing cardiovascular disease.”

In addition to recognizing Rhodes for her contributions, the event will honor Duane Roth, who died last year after being injured in a bicycling accident. As CEO of Connect, Roth was a well-respected leader and businessman in the life sciences industry. He was one of the founding board members of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center.

“Duane was a dedicated friend and visionary who appreciated the value of building a world-class cardiovascular center in San Diego,” said Michael Madani, MD, director of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center – Surgery. “Thanks to his legacy, and the support of many other generous donors, our researchers and physicians are able to move discoveries from bench to bedside without delay.”

The battle against heart disease is more critical than ever. Heart disease claims more lives each year than cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases and accidents combined. Every 34 seconds, on average, an American has a heart attack. Every minute, someone in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.

This year’s Heart of San Diego Gala honorary committee chair is Salah Hassanein, who joined Roth and Rhodes as one of the founding board members with a vision to establish a top-ranked comprehensive cardiovascular center in the San Diego region. “The Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center is the result of the tenacity of many for several years,” said Hassanein. “Everyone concerned, whether in the past or today, should be very proud of their involvement and the benefits which will accrue to present and future generations.”

Set at The US Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego, the March 1 Heart of San Diego Gala will begin with cocktails at 6:00 p.m., followed by dinner and dancing at 7:30 p.m. The cost per person to attend is $500 for Ruby Seating and $650 for Diamond Seating. Attire is black-tie. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Heart of San Diego Gala webpage or call (858) 534-6223.