Richard and Susan Rogel are on a mission to boost innovative cancer research and develop the next generation of cancer pioneers -- and they are committing $150 million to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center to realize that vision.
The gift is the largest ever to Michigan Medicine and one of the largest in the University of Michigan’s history.
This transformational gift will enable Michigan Medicine to draw on its collaborative research culture to drive cancer care forward. It will help attract and support outstanding cancer researchers from around the world, including the most promising fellows and trainees, making the University of Michigan a premier center fostering the development of new leaders in cancer research and care.
On Thursday, the U-M Regents will be asked to approve a new name for the center -- the Rogel Cancer Center -- in honor of the Rogels’ many years of giving and service. The Rogels have committed a total of $150 million to the Cancer Center during the university’s Victors for Michigan campaign, including $40 million that was previously announced. With this gift, the Rogels become the second largest individual donors to the University of Michigan.
The couple has a personal motivation to invest in cancer research. Richard Rogel, a U-M alum, lost his father to pancreatic cancer. He hopes new research underway at U-M will result in earlier diagnosis and better treatments for this and other types of cancer. Both of Susan Rogel’s parents died of cancer long ago. Her 50-year-old daughter, Ilene, died in 2012 from an aggressive form of lung cancer. With few treatments available to help Ilene, “it made us want to do more to help with the fight against cancer,” says Richard Rogel. “It’s as simple as that.”
“The problems we face in health care today are phenomenally complex. We need different minds looking at the same problem in different ways,” he said. He believes U-M is the best place to invest in teams who will generate breakthrough solutions.
“I call Michigan ‘Collaboration U’ because so many different units work together to solve problems,” Rogel says. “We have the advantage of 97 graduate departments rated in the top 10 in the country. Putting all this brain power and excitement together is going to help us find a cure for cancer. It will make people’s lives better, and that’s the most important thing.”
Through six components, the gift focuses on developing promising scientists and leveraging the university’s broad and deep strengths in science, medicine and innovation:
- Pioneering cancer research and technology: Provide competitive grants to collaborative research teams developing new approaches and technologies to advance early cancer detection, monitoring and treatment.
- Collaborative networks: Establish a signature program that brings international luminaries in the cancer field to U-M for six to 12 months. They will develop new projects that will continue after they leave, creating a collaborative network focused on advancing and applying cancer knowledge.
- Cutting-edge scientists: Provide support to retain or recruit dynamic researchers to pursue high-risk, high-reward projects.
- Scientific freedom: Create a suite of endowed professorships in cancer research, tied to research funds that will convey U-M’s commitment to discovery and innovation.
- Promising new researchers: Support the development of independent research careers for a cohort of highly motivated, advanced postdoctoral cancer research scientists whose work shows signs of great promise.
- Scholarship support: Offer scholarships to enable medical students and other predoctoral trainees to develop the skills and knowledge they need to make lasting contributions to the health of individuals and populations, including those with cancer.
“This generous gift brings major new opportunities for our cancer center to dramatically increase the pace of generating important advances in the cancer field,” says Eric R. Fearon, M.D., Ph.D., Emanuel N. Maisel Professor of Oncology and director of the Rogel Cancer Center. “We will be able to develop and apply selected discoveries for new approaches to reduce the burden of cancer and improve quality of life for cancer patients and survivors, as well as assist in building the careers of the next generation of cancer researchers and clinicians.”
U-M researchers are leaders in advancing knowledge of the origins and behaviors of cancer, and translating that knowledge to prevent cancer, improve outcomes for those diagnosed, and improve quality of life for survivors.
Very few institutions, private or public, have the breadth and depth of resources of U-M — with highly rated Medical School, College of Pharmacy, School of Public Health, School of Nursing, Ross School of Business, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and more on one campus. Cancer Center members come from 53 departments across nine of these schools and colleges.
“Susan and Rich Rogel are great visionaries about the evolution of cancer research at the University of Michigan. Their incredible support will enable us to facilitate robust and comprehensive programs and opportunities for our faculty, staff and fellows,” says Marschall Runge, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Michigan.
Leaders in cancer research, care
The gift recognizes the university’s rich history in the cancer field and provides the potential to have an even greater impact going forward. The Rogel Cancer Center was ranked No. 12 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report and is consistently in the top 10 in research funding from the National Cancer Institute. It is one of 49 centers across the country designated “comprehensive” by the National Cancer Institute.
U-M has a long history of significant cancer research discoveries, including:
- Identifying a genetic alteration seen in 50 percent of all prostate cancers, which is now helping oncologists direct treatment
- Developing new potential treatments for graft-versus-host disease, a deadly complication of lifesaving bone marrow transplants
- Creating new mouse models that are used to help understand cancer biology
- Understanding that circulating tumor cells in a patient’s blood are tied to patient outcomes
- Identifying cancer stem cells, the small number of cells in a tumor believed to fuel its growth and spread
- Understanding how cancer treatment creates long-term financial issues for many patients
“The University of Michigan takes great pride in our commitment to research and education focused on solving humanity's greatest challenges,” says University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D.
“I deeply appreciate Richard and Susan Rogel’s unwavering devotion to this commitment. There has never been greater potential for fundamental discovery to lead to dramatic improvements in the treatment of cancer. Their wonderful gift will further elevate the life-changing impact of our cancer center, while advancing the amazing work of our faculty and students and inspiring new hope for millions of patients around the globe.”
Rogels have history of giving and service to U-M
The Rogels, who split their time between Avon, Colorado, and Scottsdale, Arizona, have given and pledged $188.5 million to at least 17 areas of the university to date. Their giving has supported the Kenneth G. Lieberthal and Richard H. Rogel Center for Chinese Studies in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts; the Rogel Medical Scholars at the Medical School; and the Rogel Award for Excellence, providing need-based support for more than 540 undergraduate students since 2000.
“Rich and Susan are two of the university's most loyal volunteers and generous donors,” says U-M vice president for development Jerry May, who has worked with the Rogels for more than 30 years. “This amazing gift speaks to their faith in U-M and the power of philanthropy to advance the common good. We could not be more grateful for their nationally recognized volunteer leadership, their friendship and the honor to grace the U-M cancer center with the Rogel name."
Richard Rogel is president of the investing firm Tomay Inc. He is the founder and former chairman and CEO of the Preferred Provider Organization of Michigan, which was the first in the country of this type of health insurance plan. He graduated as the valedictorian of his 1970 class at what is now the U-M Stephen M. Ross School of Business and received an honorary doctor of laws degree in 2009.
Rogel will now serve as co-chair of the Victors for Michigan National Campaign Leadership Board. He also chairs the Michigan Medicine Victors for Michigan campaign and the Victors for Michigan Global Student Support Committee that has raised more than $1 billion. In addition, Rogel serves on numerous other boards across the university, including co-chair of both the Development Advisory Board for the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute and the Leadership and Development Council for UMHS-Peking University Health Science Center Joint Institute for Translational and Clinical Research.
Previously, he chaired the U-M Michigan Difference campaign, received U-M's inaugural David B. Hermelin Award for Fundraising Volunteer Leadership in 2004, and the national Ernest T. Stewart Award for Alumni Volunteer Involvement from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in 2011.
Susan Rogel serves on the steering committee of the Victors for Michigan National Campaign Leadership Board, the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital National Campaign Leadership Council, and the U-M Depression Center Campaign Council. She has also served on the Alumni Association Campaign Committee.
University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center: rogelcancercenter.org
Michigan Medicine Cancer AnswerLine: 800-865-1125