Michigan Medicine

Medicine Needs Victors

A look at the impact of a historic fundraising campaign

Winter 2019
Share Email Print
Text: A

Dear Fellow Victors, 

Our charge was clear: “Medicine needs victors.” We answered the call. Thank you for your extraordinary partnership. 

In these pages, you’ll find just a glimpse of what we have achieved — and how our gifts are at work. 

Together, we are increasing treatment options and transforming the way patients receive care. We are fueling discoveries and innovations that will lead to decades of progress. And we are supporting vibrant new talent in every area of medicine. 

In contributing financial resources as well as passion and expertise, we are realizing shared goals and pushing the bar higher. 

Our gifts celebrate family members, honor compassionate faculty and staff, and turn personal experiences of triumph and heartbreak into hope for people here and around the world. 

It has been an honor to be with you on this journey. In supporting Michigan Medicine through the Victors for Michigan campaign, we are all victors in making lives better. It does not get better than that. 

Go Blue! 

Richard Rogel (BBA 1970, LLD Hon 2009)
Chair, Michigan Medicine Victors for Michigan Campaign 

facts and figures

 

Forbes Institute for Cancer Discovery Stimulates Research

A $17.5 million campaign contribution from Sidney and Madeline Forbes established a groundbreaking research institute that is driving the rapid development of innovative technologies and new therapies for cancer patients.

The Forbes Institute for Cancer Discovery is a unique research enterprise within the Rogel Cancer Center. It is bringing together faculty from disparate areas — including medicine, business, pharmacy, dentistry, engineering, and public health — to pursue high-risk, high-reward projects with the potential to advance cancer research from the laboratory to the clinic.

The gift also established the Madeline and Sidney Forbes Professorship in Oncology, which is held by Max S. Wicha, M.D., the Forbes Institute’s director.

Today, cross-departmental teams led by Senior and Emerging Forbes Scholars are advancing personalized immunotherapy; identifying a potential new drug for pancreatic cancer; targeting a complex gene that drives the growth of many cancerous tumors; and identifying new biological targets for breast cancer treatment, among other projects. The Forbes Institute also is leveraging its Director’s Innovation Fund to support the development and implementation of cutting-edge technologies.

The ultimate goal: increase the number of cures and the quality of life for cancer patients, bringing hope to people around the world, including the 1.7 million Americans diagnosed with cancer each year.

 

The Rogel Cancer Center: A New Era in Care, Research, and Education

Richard and Susan Rogel’s transformational commitment to cancer care will boost innovative research and develop the next generation of pioneers in the field. Their $150 million gift — the largest ever to Michigan Medicine — already is enabling new programs that span patient care, research, and education, and that create an infrastructure that others can build on.

All gifts to cancer care during the campaign have fueled an energized, campus-wide focus on the disease group and a brighter future for patients and families. The Rogel Cancer Center’s vision includes:

  • The transformation of the patient experience, including seamlessly incorporating cutting-edge clinical research and precision treatments into the patient setting
  • A major new initiative in cancer immunology that will lead to new understanding of how the immune system sees and responds to cancers from the start
  • Higher-risk and higher-payoff investments in research to advance knowledge across all cancers
  • Breakthroughs in drug discovery, especially for cancers stubbornly resistant to current therapies
  • A heightened focus on cancer prevention, risk management, and policy
  • Unprecedented support for learners and early-career faculty seeking to devote their lives to cancer care and research

 

Keeping Top Talent at Michigan Medicine

Srijan Sen
Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg endowed the professorship currently held by Srijan Sen (above). He researches the biology of stress and depression.

Srijan Sen (M.D. and Ph.D. 2004), the Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg Professor of Depression and Neurosciences, is a leading expert in the biology of stress and depression. His work has furthered the understanding of the links between stress and depression and helped to identify genes and other biological factors involved. In the past few years, his research has garnered national and international attention. 

Sen’s work is supported by U-M alumni Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg, whose transformational gift of $10.75 million to the U-M Depression Center is being used to accelerate the development of precision treatments for clinical depression, bipolar disorder, and related illnesses. The Eisenbergs’ gift created the named professorship that Sen holds and helps to fund his groundbreaking studies and those of others to advance the understanding and delivery of improved clinical services. Their gift supports the creation of essential collaborative partnerships between the Depression Center and other units at U-M, as well as companies and organizations outside of the university; the Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg Emerging Scholar Award for early-career research and the Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg Research Prize; and an endowment to sustain future research. Emerging data already are fueling national and global interests. 

Sen leads the national Intern Health Study, a project that tracks thousands of training physicians as they transition into the highly stressful intern year. He has found that, in the U.S., one in four doctors has depression, and 300 to 400 physicians die by suicide every year. Residents and early-career doctors are especially affected, potentially from their experiences as medical students and the high level of responsibility they gain. 

“There is a strong link between depression in doctors and the quality of care that they provide for their patients,” says Sen. “Physician training is a rare situation where we can reliably predict that a large cohort of people will experience a dramatic increase in stress. This model allows us to understand how stress gets ‘under the skin’ and increases risk for depression and other disorders.”

 

Victors for Tomorrow’s Leaders 

Third-year medical student Marwa Ayyash, a recipient of the Brehm Scholars Medical School Fund, is pictured here with her family after receiving her white coat. Ayyash wrote a letter of thanks to Bill and Dee Brehm, who have given generously to Michigan Medicine and other areas of U-M throughout the years. This scholarship fund, established during the Victors for Michigan campaign, was one of their most recent gifts. Their philanthropy has supported projects including the Brehm Center for Diabetes Research & Analysis; an eight-story addition to the W.K. Kellogg Eye Center; and scholarships for many students — including Marwa and her sister, Mariam Ayyash, an M4. 

“Mr. and Mrs. Brehm, my family and I can never thank you enough. Whether you know it or not, you are frequently discussed in our household and referred to as the ultimate example of altruism, generosity, and kindness. You have touched our lives in many ways and I am always humbled by your gift. I only hope to make you proud and pay it forward one day.” 

 Marwa Ayyash and family

 

CHEAR Expands Children’s Health Research, Named in Honor of Susan B. Meister, Ph.D.

A gift from U-M alumni Susan and Paul Meister will expand the university’s impact on children’s health research. The Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Center at Michigan Medicine will now be known as the Susan B. Meister Child Health Evaluation and Research Center in honor of Meister (Ph.D. 1982), a respected health care policy expert.

Widely recognized as a model for working across disciplines, the center is a leader in advancing health services research to improve the lives of children and families and is one of the largest of its kind focused on children. The work is multidisciplinary, encompassing numerous specialties and partnering with more than 10 schools across campus. The center focuses on advancing child health by improving national and international policies; creating and testing innovative research methods; and preparing the next generation of interdisciplinary leaders. A new partnership with primary care pediatrics is poised to develop novel approaches for identifying at-risk children and families. In addition to providing operational funding for CHEAR, which was founded in 1998, the gift from the Meisters will provide support to recruit and retain highly regarded innovators to bolster what is already one of the largest and most interdisciplinary groups of academic researchers in the country studying how to improve child health. The gift also will help launch a training program for postdoctoral fellows holding an M.D. or Ph.D., as well as provide seed funding for young researchers.

“We are honored that Dr. Susan Meister and Paul Meister have chosen to convey their continued support and trust through this transformational gift that will fund research, recruitment, education, and an operational structure necessary to ensure our continuing success and impact,” says Lisa Prosser, Ph.D., the center’s director, and professor of pediatrics and of health management and policy.

Susan and Paul Meister are active volunteers and ardent supporters of programs across the university, including Michigan Medicine, the Life Sciences Institute, and more. 

 

Victors for Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Chad Carr

The boy who inspired the #ChadTough movement died in November 2015 at age 5, but Chad Carr’s legacy has already made a lasting impact at Michigan Medicine. 

Thousands of supporters from across the country came together to raise the $30 million needed to establish and name the Chad Carr Pediatric Brain Tumor Center in his honor. Leading the way were gifts of $5 million each from U-M alumnus and Regent Ron Weiser and Eileen Weiser; Wayne and Shelly Jones and the Jones Family Foundation; the Glick family and Alro Steel; as well as a generous gift from the ChadTough Foundation. In all, some 1,500 donors have given to the ChadTough Fund at U-M, including many faculty and staff who were touched by the family’s journey. 

It hasn’t taken long for the research funding to result in new discoveries. After Chad’s death, the Carr family donated his tumor to research — “Chad’s last physical gift,” his mother, Tammi Carr, calls it. The tumor was sequenced and new research has established that a mutation in a gene known as PTEN — not previously seen as a major driver of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), the type of tumor Chad had — plays an early and important role in DIPG’s genetic life story. 

“We believe that the work happening in Chad’s name at the U-M Chad Carr Pediatric Brain Tumor Center will change the future for other children,” Tammi Carr says. “This is Chad’s legacy.” 

 

Victors for Groundbreaking Research 

Albert Wheeler
Albert Wheeler, Ph.D., an immunologist and microbiologist, was a trailblazing Ann Arborite who served as its first African American mayor, as well as U-M’s first African American tenure-track professor. 

When Albert Wheeler, Ph.D., began to lose his vision to glaucoma, he had to decline an offer to participate in a national commission on AIDS because he could not travel alone. One of his daughters, Judge Nancy Wheeler, was later diagnosed with glaucoma as well. 

“When I started experiencing the same things that my father did, I began to realize that vision loss robs you of your motivation because you can’t do what you used to do,” Judge Wheeler says. “Now I understand. Everything is more difficult.” 

She and her sisters — Alma Wheeler Smith, a former Michigan state senator and representative, and Mary W. McDade, an appellate judge in Illinois — established the Albert Wheeler Glaucoma Research Fund in his memory. The former Model Cities Health Clinic, founded by their late mother, Emma Wheeler, also contributed. “We want to support research so that people can be cured,” Judge Wheeler says. 

The fund at the W.K. Kellogg Eye Center is being used to support the efforts of two senior glaucoma researchers working to develop and test new drugs for glaucoma as well as to identify genes related to the disease. 

It is fitting that a tribute to Dr. Wheeler would involve the breaking of new ground. He was the first African American tenure-track professor at U-M, joining the faculty in 1952 in microbiology and immunology. He also was the first (and still only) African American mayor of Ann Arbor, as well as a leader in the effort to end racial segregation locally, statewide, and nationally. 

 

All Giving Matters: Our Community of Victors

Jack Hughes (bottom right) and his family
“Cancer is the worst,” wrote Jack Hughes, pictured bottom right, in a letter to Michigan Medicine.

“Cancer is the worst,” wrote 6-year-old Jacoby “Jack” Hughes in a 2017 letter to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. After his father, Andy, was diagnosed with cancer, Jack decided to take action. He set up a small store in his bedroom, using a cedar chest and piano bench to display his wares; signs posted on his door and window listed the hours of operation. Gum, used toys and books, and trading cards were up for grabs, all priced at $1 or less. A Pokémon tin served as a till. His patrons — friends and family who paid a bit more than market price — helped Jack raise $112.65, which he promptly sent to Mott, along with the handwritten letter. “While it’s not a huge amount of money,” says his mother, Carmen, “it was raised with a love for both U-M and his dad.” Now, Andy is doing well, and the Hughes family is grateful for the care he received and the support their community provided. 

Jack is one of many special people whose compassion has inspired creative philanthropy. In 2017, instead of receiving gifts for his 9th birthday, former Mott patient Mark Shapiro asked his friends to donate to the Mott Giving Library, which provides free books to Mott patients and their families. After spending time at the library, Mark, an avid reader, knew that this was the perfect cause to support. As his mother, Susan Malinowski, M.D., says, “It was a natural fit!” Over $1,300 and some beautiful, handmade bookmarks were given to the library in Mark’s honor. 

Mark Shapiro and Mallory Braden
Mark Shapiro proudly shows off the books he and his friends and family donated to the Mott Giving Library. Mallory Braden makes slime for her fundraiser for the Mott Gift of a Bear program.

Seven-year-old Mallory Braden, who received echocardiograms at Mott, was similarly moved to give back to the hospital that helped her. After earning $109 by selling homemade slime, Mallory donated to the Gift of a Bear program. Mallory’s own bear, Teddy, is always there to comfort her, and she felt “everyone should have a teddy when they are scared,” says her mother, Lacie. 

Philanthropy comes in all shapes and sizes, from the annual student-run Dance Marathon to the Mott Block Out Cancer campaign to Giving Blueday. Michigan Medicine patients, both current and former, as well as friends, family, faculty, and staff, are dedicated to improving the lives of others any way they can. 

 

The New Landscape of Innovation 

Many transformational gifts to Michigan Medicine during the Victors for Michigan campaign were recognized with the naming of new spaces and programs. 

1. Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, Ted and Jane Von Voigtlander
2. Chad Carr Pediatric Brain Tumor Center
     • Jones Family Foundation
     • Regent Ron and Eileen Weiser
     • The ChadTough Foundation
     • Glick Family and Alro Steel
3. Susan B. Meister Child Health Evaluation and Research Center, Susan and Paul Meister
4. Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center
5. Aikens Hybrid Operating Room, Robert and Ann Aikens
6. Rogel Cancer Center, Richard and Susan Rogel
7. Joyce and Don Massey Family Foundation Critical Care Center and traumatic brain injury programs
8. A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute and Biomedical Science Research Building
9. Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center, Regent Ron and Eileen Weiser
10. Davidson Family Food Allergy Laboratories, William Davidson Foundation
11. Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program, World Heritage Foundation-Prechter Family Fund and Waltraud E. Prechter
12. Forbes Institute for Cancer Discovery, Madeline and Sidney Forbes  

Map of newly named spaces and programs
Map by Tom Woolley 

 

A Tribute

A. Alfred Taubman
A. Alfred Taubman

“The highest reward of success,” A. Alfred Taubman said, “is the opportunity to make a difference for other people.” 

We thank Mr. Taubman for his enduring generosity to U-M and Michigan Medicine. His giving to Michigan included the $100 million endowment of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute. As co-chair of the Michigan Medicine Victors for Michigan campaign, and as one of the largest donors in the history of Michigan Medicine, Mr. Taubman has ensured a vibrant future for the study and delivery of human health. 

A. Alfred Taubman, 1924–2015 

 

Thank You for Being a Victor for Medicine

Your support has brought what is possible to new heights. 

The generous gifts that you have shared with Michigan Medicine — totaling nearly $1.5 billion, the largest amount ever during a campaign — have advanced how we study and treat disease, made new innovative therapies possible, and, most importantly, changed the course of many patients’ lives for the better. Your support has brought hope and belief in what we can accomplish together, now and in the future, to improve the health and quality of life in our communities and beyond. 

On behalf of Michigan Medicine and the University of Michigan, I sincerely thank you for your partnership and leadership in our Victors for Michigan campaign. Because of your support and dedication, we have reached new, unprecedented milestones in philanthropy that will shape and transform our research, education, and patient care missions. 

With gratitude, 

Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, University of Michigan Medical School 
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, U-M
CEO, Michigan Medicine

A special thanks to our campaign leadership: 

Jonathon S. Aaron, Robert and Ann Aikens, Brian Campbell, Jim and Sandra Danto, Kenneth and Frances Eisenberg, David S. Evans, Sidney and Madeline Forbes, Jon B. Gandelot and Lisa Mower Gandelot, George and Joyce Helms, Paola M. Luptak, Susan B. Meister, Wally Prechter, Chair Richard and Susan Rogel, Brian Rooney, Burton Shifman, Co-Chair A. Alfred (1924–2015) and Judith Taubman, Mary H. Weiser, Regent Ron Weiser, Larry Wolfe (Kahn Foundation), and Charles Woodson