UC San Diego News Center


15th Annual Heart of San Diego Gala to Be ‘An Affair to Remember’ with Sanjay Gupta

Emmy-winning producer Wendy Walker and pharmaceutical executive Randall Woods honored for support of UC San Diego Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center


Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent, will emcee the Feb. 25 fundraiser.

In its 15th year of benefiting the University of California, San Diego’s Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, the 2012 Heart of San Diego Gala on Saturday, Feb. 25 will be “An Affair to Remember,” honoring Emmy-winning producer of “Larry King Live,” Wendy Walker and founder and managing director of Eden Woods Investments, Randall Woods. In addition, CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta will serve as emcee for the evening. This year’s formal gala—themed after the acclaimed 1957 Hollywood film—will raise funds to underwrite the purchase of a new da Vinci Surgical System for the performance of robotic, minimally-invasive cardiovascular procedures. 

Event honorees Walker and Woods are being recognized for their dedicated, long-standing support of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, which opened its new facility last year on the La Jolla campus of UC San Diego as a nucleus for clinical care and cardiovascular research in the region.

“We are thrilled to honor Randy and Wendy for their unwavering support and generosity,” said Kirk Peterson, M.D., director of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center. “Their support helped make the new world-class center a reality. As this facility allows us to continue pursuing breakthroughs in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, we look forward to making even greater strides in research, education and clinical care.” 

Since the event’s inception in 1997, the annual Heart of San Diego Gala has raised more than $7 million to enhance cardiovascular clinical care, research, education and outreach at UC San Diego, which includes construction of the new, state-of-the-art, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) “Gold” certified facility.


The cocktail hour will feature a show of jewels from the estate of Elizabeth Taylor.

Over the course of its 15 years, the success of the Heart of San Diego gala has been possible thanks to the contributions of time, resources and talents from a wide range of supporters, including world-renowned fashion designer Zandra Rhodes.

“The Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center is San Diego’s first comprehensive institute that deals with all aspects of cardiovascular disease and is focused on patients with diseases of the heart and blood vessels,” said Rhodes, who volunteers her time and talents to design the invitations and collectable items for attendees each year. “The center not only deals with patient care, but also with developmental research and the education of students. It is the only center of its kind south of Los Angeles.”

Set at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad, the Heart of San Diego gala will begin on Feb. 25 with cocktails at 6:00 p.m., featuring wine tastings from Northern California wineries Stags Leap and Jessup Cellars. The reception will also feature jewelry for purchase, including a suite of jewels from the Elizabeth Taylor estate from Antique & Estate Jewelry and Baron & Baroness Jewels.  Half of all proceeds from the jewelry sales will benefit the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center. Attendees will also have the opportunity to interact with a da Vinci Surgical System. Dinner will start at 7:30 p.m., with dancing to follow.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the UC San Diego Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center. The cost to attend the gala is $500 to $650 per person. Attire will be black-tie or 1950’s glamour. Tables can be purchased for $5,000 to $6,500. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. For information and to purchase tickets, please visit or call (858) 534-6223. 

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