In 1991, cardiologist Bernadine Healy published an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine about a phenomenon she called “the Yentl syndrome.” Yentl, the heroine of a 1983 Barbra Streisand musical based on an Isaac Bashevis Singer story, was a Jewish girl who disguised herself as a boy so that she’d be allowed to get an education. Like Yentl, Healy wrote, women only received proper treatment for heart disease when they exhibited classically male symptoms. Twenty-one years after Healy’s report, cardiology remains male-dominated, with women constituting less than a quarter of participants in heart-related studies and with women’s heart disease less likely to be properly diagnosed than men’s. The disparity persists despite the fact that heart disease is the leading killer of women, surpassing all cancers combined. Now Streisand, 70, has become one of the most high-profile figures in the effort to fight it. On Thursday, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center announced the dedication of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at an event at the singer’s Malibu home that will conclude a more than $22 million campaign for research into women’s cardiovascular health. The center will be funded by a $10 million gift from Streisand as well as several $1 million gifts she solicited from individuals such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, media mogul Barry Diller and his wife, designer Diane von Furstenberg, Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, designer Ralph Lauren, billionaire financier Ronald Perelman, Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone and billionaire Haim Saban. Streisand was to perform Thursday night for about 174 people at her home, including former President Bill Clinton. Guests who paid up to $100,000 a couple to attend were to enjoy entertainment by singer Josh Groban, Canadian musician David Foster and Israeli mentalist Lior Suchard. The evening will be the culmination of years of research and planning by Streisand and Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, the medical director of the Cedars-Sinai center that will bear Streisand’s name.
Names in the news, June 15
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