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2.24.2014

Wolfson Foundation Donations Benefit Medical Research and Education

The Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Foundation is continuing its tradition of generosity in supporting medical research and education. On February 17, foundation trustee Jeri L. Wolfson presented the Miller School with two checks totaling $486,000. She was accompanied by Arthur H. Hertz, who is a Wolfson Foundation trustee as well as a UM trustee.

One check, in the amount of $200,000, supports the Schiff Center for Liver Diseases. The second check, for $286,000, is composed of two donations. The first, in the amount of $75,000, supports DOCSumentary, a joint venture with the School of Communication, where film maker Ali Habashi, a lecturer in the Department of Cinema and Interactive Media, is overseeing the production of films about the Miller School’s Mitchell Wolfson Sr. DOCS (Department of Community Service) student-volunteer program, named in honor of the foundation’s founder.

An additional $211,000 will develop nutrition-related links between DOCS and iCAMP, Integrative and Complementary Academic Medicine Programs, under the leadership of Janet Konefal, Ph.D., Assistant Dean for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, and Robert Schwartz, M.D., professor and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.

“The work you do here at the medical school is so profound, and I’m glad we can help,” said Wolfson. “When you advance the cause of health, you help the entire community.”

“I am so grateful to the Wolfson Foundation for its continued generous support,” said Eugene R. Schiff, M.D., Director of the Schiff Center. “This is a wonderful time for our field. There have been major advances in the cure rate of hepatitis C, which is now approaching 100 percent. We have patients who have waited so long, and now we have something for them. I’m glad to be a part of it, but without the Wolfson Foundation’s assistance, our Center could not function optimally.”

Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School, and CEO of UHealth, agreed about the vital connection between financial support and medical discovery. “Dr. Schiff has never let down his pace; he is one of the 10 busiest investigators in this School,” he said. “He is a leader in the field of liver diseases, but if it were not for the Wolfson Foundation gift every year, his work would not get done.”

The funding for DOCSumentary supports the production and distribution of films that will be used to share the DOCS model with other medical schools, both nationally and internationally, and to attract the highest caliber of students to the Miller School.

“In addition,” said Wolfson, “we are providing funding to support the Dean’s vision of creating a bridge between iCAMP and DOCS through nutrition. A nutrition element will be added to the areas of clinical, research and educational programming. This will include DOCS health fairs and training.”

“Jeri picked up on the extraordinary opportunity of the DOCS program,” said Goldschmidt. “Her generosity and the generosity of the Wolfson Foundation give us another way to expand our work with patients on the importance of nutrition and healthy lifestyles.”

Mark T. O’Connell, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Educational Development and holder of the Bernard J. Fogel Chair in Medical Education, who oversees the DOCS Program along with Executive Director Rimsky Denis, M.P.H., M.B.A., a fourth-year medical student, predicted a far-reaching impact. “This push for nutrition will not be limited to DOCS, but will ripple out and bring a much deeper, richer curriculum in nutrition to all of our medical students,” O’Connell said.

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