Couple donates $150M to UM cancer center

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Years ago, Richard and Susan Rogel lost many of their family members to cancer.

Richard Rogel’s father succumbed to pancreatic cancer. Susan Rogel lost her father to melanoma. Her mother also died from cancer during a time when people didn’t talk about it, so she doesn’t even know what kind of cancer.

Five years ago, Susan Rogel lost her 50-year-old daughter to small cell lung cancer, even though she had never smoked cigarettes.

The cancer that killed the couple’s loved ones is what motivated them to donate $150 million to University of Michigan Cancer Center in hopes of transforming cancer research.

It is the largest gift ever to Michigan Medicine, and one of the largest in UM’s history.

“We hope that it eventually will lead to a cure for cancer,” said Richard Rogel, who graduated from UM in 1970 as valedictorian of what is now the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

Thursday, the UM Board of Regents will consider renaming the university’s cancer center to the Rogel Cancer Center to honor this gift from the Rogels and other gifts over the years, totaling $188.5 million to 17 areas of the university.

The gift to the cancer center will be funneled to six areas, including:

--Providing grants to research teams collaborating on pioneering researach and technology.

--Establishing a program that will bring internationally acclaimed cancer researchers to UM for 6 to 12 months to develop projects.

--Supporting scientists engaged in cutting edge research through retention and recruitment.

--Creating endowed professorships in cancer research tied to reseach funds.

--Supporting development of promising postdoctoral cancer research scientists.

--Offering scholarship to medical students to develop skills for contributions to 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,” said Dr. Eric R. Fearon, an oncology professor and director of the UM 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,” he said.

The Rogels have a history of giving and service to UM.

Richard Rogel is the founder of the Preferred Provider Organization of Michigan, the nation’s first such health insurance plan. He is the president of the investing firm Tomay Inc.

He serves as co-chair of the Victors for Michigan National Campaign Leadership Board, chairs the Michigan Medicine Victors for Michigan campaign and the Victors for Michigan Global Student Support Committee. Additionally, Rogel serves on several UM boards, including as 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 the Joint Institute for Translational and Clinical Research between Michigan Medicine and Peking University Health Science Center.

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 UM Depression Center Campaign Council. She also has served on the Alumni Association Campaign Committee.

“Susan and Rich Rogel are great visionaries about the evolution of cancer research at the University of Michigan,” said Dr. Marschall Runge, executive vice president for UM medical affairs. “Their incredible support will enable us to facilitate robust and comprehensive programs and opportunities for our faculty, staff and fellows.”