Regent Ron Weiser gives $30 million to UM for prostate cancer center

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Improving the treatment and care of men with prostate cancer is the aim of a $30 million gift to the University of Michigan, officials announced Tuesday.

The donation, from UM Regent Ron Weiser, will establish a prostate cancer center at Michigan Medicine, UM's hospital system.

The money will be used to fund staff, infrastructure, technology and education as well as research into the disease and its treatment. It will be known as the Ronald Weiser Center for Prostate Cancer.

Officials said the center will be an "innovative, patient-focused program in prostate cancer."

Ron Weiser, a University of Michigan regent and state GOP chairman, donated $30 million to Michigan Medicine for a prostate cancer center.

“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,” says 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.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is also the leading cause of death from cancer among men. 

Weiser, who is a top UM donor and also the chair of the Michigan Republican Party, had previously disclosed that he has prostate cancer.

"Every man if he lives long enough gets prostate cancer," said Weiser, 76. "I'm pleased that I am able to help so many individuals and families with this gift."

Asked about his cancer, Weiser said that he has completed his radiation and drug therapy and his doctors have told him that his prognosis is good.

"They told me not to worry and they will keep checking every five years and if doesn't come back, it's not coming back," said Weiser. "I think they got rid of it."

A part of the gift will be invested in recruiting the best faculty and staff, including those who are underrepresented in the field of prostate cancer. It will also be used to purchase advanced equipment to use precision medicine for diagnosing and treating patients, UM said in a release.

The center will be housed in Michigan's Medicine's Rogel Cancer Center, which already has a prostate cancer program that includes state-of-the-art urology, radiation oncology and radiology programs; multidisciplinary prostate cancer clinics; advanced technology and a robust research program working to improve the diagnosis, treatment and survival of prostate cancer.

Weiser and his wife, Eileen, had previously donated $123.5 million to UM. The couple began divorce proceedings in October of last year. 

Their gifts to the university date to 1979 and have spanned more than a dozen different schools, colleges and units across all the UM campuses in Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint as well as at Michigan Medicine. The gifts have supported education, scholarships, fellowships, faculty, and programs in the areas of diplomacy, liberal arts, medical research, music, business, engineering and others, UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said.