University of Michigan Regent Ron Weiser has committed $30 million to Michigan Medicine to establish an innovative, patient-focused program in prostate cancer.
The Ronald Weiser Center for Prostate Cancer will aim to elevate and optimize the health care experience for patients with prostate cancer and their families by investing in staff, infrastructure, technologies and education as well as research into the disease and its treatment.
“The goal is to make this center the easiest and best place to be treated for prostate cancer in the country, if not the world,” said Ganesh Palapattu, M.D., the George F. and Sandy G. Valassis Professor of Urology and the chair of the Department of Urology at Michigan Medicine.
The center will draw on the already immense resources of the U-M Rogel Cancer Center’s renowned prostate cancer program, including state-of-the art urology, radiation oncology and radiology programs; multidisciplinary prostate cancer clinics; cutting-edge technology; highly sought-after training opportunities and a robust research program that seeks to improve the diagnosis, treatment and survivorship of prostate cancer.
The Ronald Weiser Center for Prostate Cancer will be a clinically focused entity within the Rogel Cancer Center that combines expertise from three departments — Urology, Radiation Oncology and Radiology — with representatives from each discipline collaborating and serving in leadership roles.
“We already have a very strong program, but the new center should allow us to take our collaborative clinical care to the next level,” said Theodore S. Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D., the Isadore Lampe Professor of Radiation Oncology and the chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology. “The ability to combine drugs and radiation and surgery will be facilitated by being together in one place to deliver better care.”
“We have more than a critical mass of clinician experts, investigators, educators and thought leaders in the field,” Palapattu said. “This center is going to be the mortar that keeps all those bricks together.”
A portion of the gift will be used to recruit and retain the best and the brightest, including those who are underrepresented in the field of prostate cancer, to serve as trainees and faculty in the center. The gift will also fund advanced equipment and materials that will further the center’s approach of using precision medicine to diagnose and treat patients.
“With this gift, we can increase timely and convenient access to the latest technology and treatments that will allow us to provide a superior experience for our patients, regardless of means,” said Vikas Gulani, M.D., Ph.D., the Fred Jenner Hodges professor and the chair of the Department of Radiology.
Weiser, one of the university’s top donors, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2019, and the experience caused him to reflect on how he could help combat the country’s second-leading cause of cancer-related death among men.
"I'm grateful for the excellent care at U-M that has helped me fight the cancer that invaded my body,” Weiser said. “But going through this has made me realize more could be done to support so many other men and their families who face this terrible disease, too."
"Regent Weiser's generous gift to Michigan Medicine will enhance our research, education and patient care while providing new levels of hope to the hundreds of thousands of patients around the globe who are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year,” said U-M President Mark Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D. “The Ronald Weiser Center for Prostate Cancer will unite the life-saving work of researchers and clinicians in multiple disciplines and further U-M's commitment to excellence in health care."
“The continuing generosity of Ron Weiser will help our prostate cancer program reach even more people in need and ensure they receive not only the most evidence-based care but also the most coordinated, collaborative, compassionate care,” said Marschall Runge, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for medical affairs, dean of the U-M Medical School and CEO of Michigan Medicine.
Weiser will work with Michigan Medicine on fundraising efforts for the new center and encourages others to join him in supporting this transformational initiative.
Weiser and his family have committed more than $150 million to the University of Michigan to date. He has served on the Board of Regents since 2016 and was a vice chair of the Victors for Michigan campaign. His gifts have helped establish centers including the Elizabeth Weiser Caswell Diabetes Institute, the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center and the Chad Carr Pediatric Brain Tumor Center at Michigan Medicine as well as the Weiser Center for Real Estate, the Weiser Diplomacy Center, the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies and the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia on the main campus.