Art for the heart

Art for the heart

By Mina Radman

Student Alicia Lew donated $11,150 from her “Art for the Heart” auction to College of Pharmacy researcher Julie Johnson./Photo by Maria Belen Farias

Alicia Lew spent her 20th birthday giving someone else a gift.

On Feb. 14, Lew, a pre-med biology sophomore, presented Julie Johnson, Pharm. D, a check for $11,150 to be used toward Johnson’s research on cardiovascular pharmacogenomics.

Lew raised the money through an art auction and wine pairing event she organized and held in her hometown of Leesburg, Fla., in January. About 150 people attended the event, and 48 pieces of artwork, including an original signed and numbered Salvador Dali lithograph, were sold through a live and silent auction.

The daughter of a cardiologist and an avid artist, Lew created the art auction, called “Art for the Heart,” to blend her interests in the arts and cardiology to raise money for research. She originally intended to donate the money raised to a national organization, but chose instead to give the money to a UF professor. After researching various professors, she found Johnson.

“The donation held a deeper meaning to me because I was able to meet with the researcher and know exactly what kind of research the money would be going toward,” Lew said.

“She said, ‘I’m going to do this event and would you be willing to be the recipient?’ so we said ‘Of course,’” said Johnson, director at the UF Center for Pharmacogenomics and the Personalized Medicine Program at Shands. “This sounded like such a huge undertaking, so it was amazing and impressive what she was able to do.”