Wolfson Foundation Gifts Inspire and Challenge Medical Students

The Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Foundation continues to focus on saving lives by supporting Miller School of Medicine students who provide health care to the underserved while gaining valuable learning experiences.

Recently, checks representing a total of $609,000 in funding were presented to the Miller School of Medicine by Jeri Wolfson and Arthur Hertz, trustees of the Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Foundation. Hertz is also a University of Miami trustee.

The ceremony was held February 16 at the Don Soffer Clinical Research Center. Wolfson noted that the gifts support the Foundation’s goal of training medical professionals to teach their patients how to attain health and well-being. It also fuels efforts to move the medical school’s curriculum toward a more integrative approach.

“We wanted to make this school attractive both from the western medical perspective and also the integrative and complementary perspective,” Wolfson said. “Because, frankly, if we can keep people out of the medical system, that’s what we would like to do; however, if you go into care, we want our health care system to be number one. So we’ve broadened our donations to include both of those.”

Hertz began the ceremony by presenting a $200,000 check on behalf of the Foundation to Eugene Schiff, M.D., Director of the Miller School of Medicine’s Schiff Center for Liver Diseases.

“Dr. Schiff is a medical superstar, in addition to being one of my closest friends,” Hertz said. “With this donation, we are saluting his passion to cure liver diseases.”

Schiff thanked the Foundation — and his longtime friend, Hertz, in particular — for their on-going support.

“I know that most of the people in this room have no idea what a pillar to this community this man is, and has been for so many years,” Schiff said. “Thank you so much for this donation.”

Hertz then presented an $85,000 gift to Eduardo de Marchena, M.D., Associate Dean for International Medicine and Director of Interventional Cardiology.

De Marchena thanked Hertz for his tremendous support of medical education, including an international fellowship program created last year that provides training and surgical experience with technology-driven, interventional treatments for structural heart disease. Participants in the one-year fellowship spend eight months in Miami, two to three months at the Angiografia de Occidente in Cali, Colombia, and one month at ThoraxCenter in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

“The program has been very successful this year,” said de Marchena. “We are so grateful that the Wolfson Foundation is now continuing to support it.”

Jeri Wolfson then presented Amar Deshpande, M.D., faculty advisor for the Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Foundation Department of Community Service (DOCS), associate professor of medicine, Assistant Dean for Medical Education and Competency Assessment, and Vice Chief for Education in the Division of Gastroenterology, with a discretionary check of $50,000 for any additional equipment DOCS students might need at the health fairs.

She also gave Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Dean of the Miller School of Medicine; Robert Schwartz, M.D., Chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health; Janet Konefal, Ph.D., Assistant Dean for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, and Director of iCAMP (Integrative and Complementary Academic Medical Program), and Ali Habashi, a lecturer in the Department of Cinema and Interactive Media, a $100,000 gift for the iCAMP/Medical School Partnership with the Center for Communications, Culture, and Change.

The gift was inspired by the work of Habashi, who, along with faculty members, graduate students, and staff members from the School of Communication, created a series of short films, called DOCSumentaries, and an online platform to help disseminate the proven DOCS model of health care and community service.

Wolfson also presented an additional $174,083 to Konefal for continual curriculum building in integrative medicine with the goal of creating a master’s degree program. The gift will also support matching funds for the Clinical Nutrition Conference series, DOCS fairs and programs, health promotion in the medical school curriculum, and family medicine residency training.

“The Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Foundation has been a wonderful philanthropic partner to the University of Miami, and the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, for more than a quarter century,” said Goldschmidt. “On behalf of the Miller School, and the School of Communication, I thank you for your partnership, your support, and your abiding commitment to the health and welfare of the residents of South Florida.”

Established in 1984, after the death of Col. Mitchell Wolfson, the Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Foundation continues to impact the lives of many in South Florida.

Col. Wolfson included the University of Miami among the many beneficiaries of his great legacy. Since then, the Foundation has generously provided more than $19 million in support to several areas at the Miller School, including DOCS, ophthalmology, the Diabetes Research Institute, the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

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