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06 February 2012


ST. LOUIS, MO.: It was a “dazzling” evening as the Friends of the Saint Louis University Liver Center and their guests celebrated their 9th annual “Denim & Diamonds” event on Saturday, November 12, 2011 in the magnificent Khorassan Room at The Chase Park Plaza.

 This year’s event – The Black & White Gala – raised more than $424,000 in corporate and donor support for the Saint Louis University Liver Center and the life-saving research and treatment they provide to patients from all over the world. Of special note were the following corporate sponsors who were on hand and honored at the exclusive VIP reception prior to the event:

  • Diamond Sponsor – Vertex Pharmaceuticals
  • Platinum Sponsors – Kadmon Pharmaceuticals, LLC and Merck
  • Gold Sponsors – Saint Louis University Hospital and Special Design Healthcare
  • Silver Sponsors – Salix Pharmaceuticals and Express Scripts

 Dr. Bruce R. Bacon, a co-founder of the Saint Louis University Liver Center and Professor of Internal Medicine at Saint Louis University Medical School, received the “Naomi Judd Award” for his outstanding accomplishments in clinical research for viral hepatitis and Primary Biliary Cirrhosis.  Dr. Bacon and the guests were treated to a surprise congratulations message shared via video from Naomi and Wynona Judd of the Grammy award-winning duo “The Judds”. Naomi Judd – who is a former patient of Dr. Bacon’s – credits him and his team at the SLU Liver Center for saving her life. 

 Paul Azzara received the “Volunteer Award” for his years of dedication to the Friends organization, and in particular, for the active role he played on the 2011 “Denim & Diamonds” planning committee.

 After the awards were bestowed, dinner was followed by the special “Grateful Patients” presentation, featuring stories and comments by Saint Louis University Liver Center physicians/researchers alongside their patients and families.

 Saint Louis University President Fr. Lawrence Biondi, S.J., served as the Honorary Chairperson for the 2011 “Denim & Diamonds” The Black & White Gala, and KTVI FOX2’s Morning Show Anchor John Pertzborn was the event Emcee.

 The “Denim & Diamonds” event is the annual major fundraiser, sponsored by Friends of the SLU Liver Center, which supports the research efforts of the world-renowned Saint Louis University Liver Center for the treatment and cure of liver diseases, and promotes understanding and awareness of liver disease. All money raised by the organization stays in the St. Louis area to perform life-saving research and treat patients in St. Louis.

 The Friends organization has raised and donated more than $2.1 million for the SLU Liver Center since its inception in 2002. The funds help support the critical infrastructure of the Liver Center from faculty salaries to visiting professorships and patient-oriented seminars and research. By leveraging the donations of the Friends, the Liver Center is able to use the funds as “seed grants” for investigators to gather preliminary research data that in turn generates larger grants from outside sources. This seed grant process has generated $18 new dollars from outside the region for every $1 raised locally.

 Additional details and photos from the recent “Denim & Diamonds” event can be found at the Friends website at And for more information, please contact Executive Director Leisa Duff at 314-576-3078.


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