Relational Medicine at Work



  • 2001 - First encounter between heart transplant patient Candace Moose (book author: A Grateful Heart) and heart transplant cardiologist Dr. Mario Deng at Columbia University.
  • 2005 - Initiation of encounter research at Columbia University and City University of New York in New York City by Dr. Mario Deng and Dr. Federica Raia.
  • 2009 - Proposal of Emotion Theatre to communicate stakeholder perspectives by Actress/Director Vanda Monaco-Westerstahl.
  • 2010 - Formulation of Emotion Theatre project with Director John Henry Davis and Opera Composer Conrad Cummings.
  • 2011 - Founding of Relational Medicine Foundation with Mario Deng , Federica Raia , Vanda Monaco Westerstahl , John Henry Davis  and additional Founding members Candace Moose, Jim Moose, Robert Milo and Amy Milo.  Emotion Theatre plays in New York City.
  • 2012 - Emotion Theatre Plays in Los Angeles after Dr. Deng’s and Dr. Raia’s move to UCLA.
  • 2013 - RelationalAct Workshops at UCLA (made possible by generous support from UCLA Health System CEO and President Dr. David Fenberg and UCLA Nursing Director Heidi Crooks) by Dr. Raia, Dr. Deng, John Henry Davis and Meredith Flynn (new RMF-Board Member).
  • 2014 - Publication of the book: Raia and Deng. Relational Medicine. Personalizing Modern Healthcare. The Practice of High-Tech Medicine as a RelationalAct. World Scientific Publishing/Imperial College Press 2014.

The foundation evolved as a multistakeholder project in New York City (since 2009) and Los Angeles (since 2011) (with an ongoing documentary about its evolution).


The Relational Medicine Foundation, an IRS 501c3 non-profit organization, is dedicated to the study and implementation of the high quality RelationalAct, the “mindfully present” person-to-person encounter between patient and healthcare professional, as means of improving the humanism and effectiveness of medicine.  Key activities for the Relational Medicine Foundation, in close collaboration with UCLA, include:

  • Research/Education/Training

  • Artistic Integration of Art and Medicine

  • Corporate and Institutional Collaboration

  • Grant/Philanthropy Funding

  • Dissemination and Strategic Consulting

To support The Relational Medicine Foundation, we are requesting funding to:

  1. Endow a UCLA-Fellowship “Humanism in Advanced Heart Failure”
  2. Endow a Chair in “Humanism in High-Tech Modern Medicine”
  3. Endow the Relational Act Research and Education (RARE) Program/Center/Institute at UCLA.

Our Board of Directors


Dr. Mario Deng

Professor Mario Deng, M.D., is a cardiologist, specialized in the care of patients with advanced heart failure, mechanical circulatory support devices and heart transplantation. After medical training in Germany and a postdoctoral cardiology research fellowship at Stanford University, he served as the Medical Director of the Interdisciplinary Heart Failure & Heart Transplantation Program at Muenster University (1992-2000), Director of Cardiac Transplantation Research at Columbia University (2000-2011), and between 2011 and 2016, Medical Director of the UCLA Integrated Advanced Heart Failure/Mechanical Support/Heart Transplant program.

Prof. Deng maintains a position at the intersection between clinical cardiology, teaching and translational research. Dr. Deng is Co-Principal Investigator of the Cardiac Allograft Rejection Gene Expression Observational (CARGO) study that led to the first-in-history US-FDA-cleared genomic organ transplantation rejection AllomapTM blood test and Principal Investigator of the NIH-NHLBI-project “Multidimensional Molecular Biomarkers of MultiOrgan Dysfunction after Mechanical Circulatory Support Therapy.”

Together with Prof. Federica Raia, he developed the Relational Medicine Theory with the core concept of the RelationalAct to improve the understanding and practice of modern medicine. In the context of this work, Prof. Deng is the co-founder and co-president, with Prof. Raia, of the Relational Medicine Foundation, a non-profit organization in support of the on-going collaboration among different stakeholders:  patients, caregivers, healthcare providers, education researchers and artists/theater professionals to improve the understanding and practice of high-tech modern medicine


John Henry Davis

John Henry Davis serves on the board of directors and is the Program Director of the Relational Medicine Foundation. He is a director of theatre, opera, film and television, as well as a dramaturg, playwright, and novelist. Mr. Davis is Professor Emeritus at LaGuardia Community College, having been a full professor there for many years. He has also taught at NYU and Vassar.   

In theatre, he is known for directing premieres of new plays and musicals in theatres all across the country, including Playwrights Horizons, The Mark Taper Forum, the Kennedy Center, The International City Theatre in Long Beach, The Odyssey Theatre, Dallas Theatre Center, The Philadelphia Drama Guild, and Baltimore Center Stage. Mr. Davis directed the world premiere productions of the plays Papa and Mountain starring Len Cariou for tour and Off-Broadway and directed the workshop production of Conrad Cumming’s opera The Golden Gate at Rose Studio in New York as well as multiple productions of Babes in Toyland at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center. He has also produced and directed many documentaries, including Broken Mirrors. In television and film, he has directed “Oz” for HBO, a pilot for Bravo, and the award-winning feature film “Ordinary Sinner”. 

For the foundation, he has produced and directed several documentaries, including Medicine as a Relational Act. In the theatre, John Henry produced and directed Catherine Wheel and Night Float at Playwright’s Horizon in New York. He co-wrote Waiting Room with Vanda Monaco, and produced and directed it at UCLA’s Tamkin Auditorium, along with Catherine Wheel. 

John Henry Davis is also a playwright and novelist. His latest novel is eM: The Beginning. Mr. Davis is the husband of Game Show Network television executive Amy Introcaso-Davis, and is the proud father of Sean, Bonnie, and Christopher. 


Victoria Groysberg 

Victoria Groysberg graduated UCLA in 2014 and has been working in a lab ever since. Always sketching and painting growing up, Victoria gained a love of art at a young age and took art classes for 10 years. Through witnessing the suffering brought upon by heart disease on her grandparents and her art teacher of 10 years, she realized that introducing art therapy into the medical environment had great potential to benefit patient's recoveries. Through her exposure to the medical environment, she realized that the biomedical approach was not enough, and that a mechanism to build up patient's optimism and spirituality during their stay in the hospital needed to be introduced. This mechanism is the use of Relational Medicine and the use of the arts to assist patients in the healing process.  She aims to go to medical school and to incorporate these fundamental principles into her practice.


Meredith Flynn