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Penn Medicine Trustee Raymond Perelman and his wife Ruth have donated $25 million to the University Health System.

The contribution will specifically fund the development of the Health System's Center for Advanced Medicine, which broke ground at 34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard last month, replacing the historic Convention Hall.

The center will officially be named the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine.

The center's completion will cost an estimated $232 million and is the largest financial undertaking in the history of Penn's Health System. Officials hope the center will be fully operational by 2008.

It will be the region's first fully integrated care center, allowing cancer patients, surgical outpatients and cardiovascular patients to receive all of their treatments without moving significantly within the hospital.

Perelman graduated from the Wharton School in 1940. He has served as president and chairman of RGP Holdings Inc., which has interests in the manufacturing, mining and financial industries.

The Perelman family has a long tradition of philanthropy in the city. They recently gave funds to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Kimmel Center.

Additionally, University Trustee Ron Perelman, son of Raymond and Ruth, donated $20 million in 1995 for the construction of the Perelman Quadrangle.

Numerous Health System officials, including Arthur Rubenstein, executive vice president of the Health System and dean of the School of Medicine, and Abramson Cancer Center Director John Glick have publicly thanked the Perelmans for their generosity.

"I am extraordinarily thankful that Ray Perelman has made a wonderful, generous gift to the Center for Advanced Medicine," Glick said.

It will comprise 300,000 square feet of clinical space.

Controversy erupted last year when the University Health System announced plans to demolish Convention Hall to construct the new medical center.

The hall was designed by architect P.H. Johnson and opened its doors in 1931. In its 75-year history, some of the most important events in Philadelphia history were held inside its walls.

In 1940, the city paid $200,000 to host the Democratic National Convention, at which Franklin Roosevelt was nominated for a third time. It was the first televised convention in American history.

The Philadelphia Warriors played their final season in Convention Hall in 1961-62, as did their star, West Philadelphia-raised Wilt Chamberlain.

After an analysis, Penn officials concluded that the Center for Advanced Medicine could not use the Convention Hall building, but required its demolition.

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