2016 Grants Challenge

Art from the Heart: an Art and Movement Therapy Program

The Foundation empowers patients and improves the humanism of patient care through its dedication to the “relationally present” person-to-person encounter between patient and healthcare professionals


Are any other organizations collaborating on this proposal?

Ava Kaufman, founder of Ava's Heart, who was in the first graduating class in Dance Therapy at New York University, will assist in launching this art and movement therapy program for heart transplant patients, as she is a patient herself, at UCLA.

Please describe your project proposal.

Based on Dr. Federica Raia's ethnographic and participatory research, the Relational Medicine Foundation's key activities include: patient and student involvement in the artistic integration of Art and Medicine to aid the process of healing through collaboration with innovative and well-respected arts and cultural institutions, and the dissemination of research results to the community.

Which of the CREATE metrics will your proposal impact?​

Arts establishments

Employment in the creative industries

Federal research grant funding

Jobs per capita

Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”)

Minority- and women-owned firms

High growth startups

Percentage of graduates from local higher education institutions that remain in LA County 5 years after graduating

Recruiting and retention rates for local higher education institutions

Venture capital investment

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

South LA


South Bay


Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to CREATE?

Forty years ago, it was unthinkable to live a life with an artificial heart, with somebody else’s heart, or with an assist heart pump. The unfathomable experiences of a person in interaction with the scientific and technological advances as experienced in advanced heart failure are novel to patients and their families, and unknown to health care professionals (e.g.; ). For the last five years, Dr. Federica Raia conducted an ethnographic and participatory research study on the practice of high-tech modern medicine in collaboration with the advanced heart failure cardiologist Dr. Mario Deng, director of the UCLA Integrated Advanced Heart Failure-Mechanical Support-Heart Transplant Program. Based on ethnographic work and the analysis of recorded medical encounters following patients with their doctor encounters for two years, the authors provide a comprehensive framework for understanding the practice of high-tech modern medicine (PS More information about this book can be found in What Dr. Raia discovered in her research revealed that the marvels of technology mandate the practice of Relational Medicine, i.e. the integration of body, science technology and personhood into one singular framework of practice and that this integration can mean the difference between life and death. For the thousands of heart failure patients that receive treatment at UCLA Reagan Medical Center, their often prolonged recovery can critically diminish their physical, mental and spiritual health.

The Relational Medicine Foundation aims to launch an art intervention program that allows patients – through art and creative pursuits – to keep them optimistic through their recovery. Patients spend such long periods of time in the hospital due to their Heart Disease, and providing them with an opportunity to express their emotions creatively would be invaluable to their mental and physical health to ultimately decrease the Heart Failure burden. We hope that our project will serve as a model to other medical centers. It is in our vision to support future research that will advance Heart Failure knowledge and care.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

Dr. Federica Raia, a complexity scientist and assistant professor in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, has extensive experience evaluating the impact of ethnographic work and the analysis of recorded medical encounters following patients with their doctor encounters for two years, and she has provided a comprehensive framework for understanding the practice of the patient-doctor collaboration in high-tech modern medicine. With Dr. Mario Deng, Professor Raia has established the Relational Medicine Foundation.

To measure community level impact of using the arts to aid patients in their journey of healing and to educate patients about preventative measures, we will work with the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health to develop questionnaires further distributed to the community electronically. The questionnaires could be distributed to community members through an app developed to display the patients’ work.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?



Advisors/board members




Technical infrastructure (computers etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research