Give from Within: Victors for Michigan
Alon Weizer, M.D., medical director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, serves as a co-chair of the University’s Give from Within campaign. Dr. Weizer understands that philanthropy is an investment in all people. “It’s not about me as a clinician furthering my agenda,” Weizer says. “It’s about what resonates with the donor and his or her experience, and then connecting them with the right people who can use that resource to make discoveries or educate the next generation.”
Weizer credits the workshops facilitated by the health system’s development team for opening his eyes to the personal nature of philanthropy. He believes it’s important to lead by example and show our donors that, while we are in the trenches, taking care of people each day, we are also willing to make our own investments in our future and theirs.
“It’s true that our job is to care for others, and that is giving back,” he says. “I see it every day, from the maintenance team helping someone lost in the hallway, to the nurses taking care of patients in the clinics. We all contribute through our work.”
A clinician, Weizer specializes in minimally invasive surgery for urologic cancer patients. Through that work, he sees the long-term benefit of research and discovery. That’s why he often helps guide grateful patients to support basic science research. “I think that if you look at what our patients go through and all of the great things going on in our clinical areas, research and education, you feel a sense of obligation to do everything you can to support the amazing work happening here.”
In addition to advocating for laboratory resources, among Weizer’s other personal interests is Patient and Family Support Services — a program to help cancer patients and families cope with the emotional, social and logistical challenges that can accompany a cancer diagnosis. “I would love to see more programs like this that provide resources to help patients navigate this complex process,” he says. “You don’t just pull somebody off the street to run a support group for cancer survivors or provide psychosocial support. It takes tremendous resources, and it makes a big difference to our patients and families.”
Weizer hopes that two things are accomplished through the Give from Within campaign: that faculty, staff and retirees all realize what a precious gift philanthropy is and appreciate the investment that others are making in the work we do, and that consideration is given to support those high-risk, high-reward basic science research ideas that have the potential to positively impact patient outcomes and help people live longer, more meaningful lives.
“We do an amazing job and we could so much more,” says Dr. Weizer. “Ultimately it comes down to limited time, space, resources. And investing in that really pays dividends for our patients.”