During calendar year 2006, an unprecedented number of donors partnered with the Department of Internal Medicine to further its scientific discoveries, to advance new treatments for devastating diseases, and to expand training opportunities for our next generation of internists. We are deeply indebted to all of those donors for their generous contributions and for their belief in our vision. Without their assistance, much of what we’ve accomplished would not have occurred.

In past Reports, we have highlighted many of the donors from outside the University. This year we wish to acknowledge the strong support we have received over the course of many years from our alumni, our faculty, and our staff. Although we cannot name them all here, we have asked representatives from each of those constituencies to share their thoughts about giving back to our Department.

Dr. Robert J. DeLap and his wife, Linda, have contributed to a variety of activities within the Medical School and the Department of Internal Medicine for more than twenty years. Dr. DeLap completed his Internal Medicine residency at Michigan in 1981 and currently serves as Vice President for Medical Research at Celgene Corporation. “In addition to providing outstanding educational opportunities and excellence in research, Michigan continues to provide thoughtful leadership in addressing important societal issues. As alumni, my wife and I have benefited from the Michigan experience, and we are honored to share in supporting the work of the University. We recognize that philanthropy is important to enable the University to foster innovative activities, to serve today’s needs and strengthen tomorrow’s leaders,” said Dr. DeLap.

Dr. Stefan S. Fajans and his wife, Ruth Stine Fajans, have made contributions to diabetes initiatives in the Department for more than thirty years and, more recently, to the medical student scholarship fund. Now an emeritus professor, Dr. Fajans has been part of the Michigan family for 70 years. He completed his medical training in 1942, his residency in 1949, and has researched and treated diabetes at the University of Michigan since 1946. In 2005, Dr. William H. Herman was installed as the first Stefan S. Fajans/GlaxoSmithKline Professor of Diabetes. “The purpose of the endowed professorship is to help enlarge the pool of recognized, original, and outstanding diabetes-related investigators at the Michigan Diabetes Center,” said Dr. Fajans. “Our motivation for creating the endowed Fajans Diabetes Research Fund was to support and stimulate present and future research at the level of individual projects in clinical investigation, which includes helping to support the education of those research fellows who participate,” he continued. When Dr. Marc Lippman established the Department’s Medical Student Scholarship Fund in 2003, Dr. and Mrs. Fajans were among the first to contribute. “Medical education has become so expensive for individual students that support of the brightest and most talented is important for the optimal survival of a vibrant department of medicine.”

Susan A. Olsson, a registered nurse in the Infectious Diseases Division, has contributed to the Health System through monthly payroll deductions for the past ten years and has recently extended those monthly gifts for the next eight years! Susan has been a nurse at Michigan for 25 years and says her work has always provided great learning opportunities. “No colleague has ever been too busy to teach me what I need to know to do my job better, or to contribute to a project to improve patient care. The University provides opportunities for learning almost every day of the week and even during the lunch hours,” she said. Beginning in 2004, Susan contributed to the Dr. Jacob P. Deerhake Fund in memory of a Chief Medical Resident with whom she had worked for three years. ‘Jake’ tragically died of cancer during his final year of residency in the Department. Sue’s current gifts are supporting patient care in the Infectious Diseases Division. “I give to show my gratitude for all I have received from the University. If each one of us gave even $10 per month, think of the good that could do!”

For many years, the Department of Internal Medicine has also benefited greatly from several generous donors who included us in their estate plans. Their names with an estate designation have been included in our Honor Rolls but this year we would like to pay special tribute to the memory of Herbert O. and Alice E. Benz for their bequest to autoimmune disease research, to Jean E. Simpson for her gifts to support rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular research, and to Anne M. Thorne for her contribution to diabetes research. We are deeply grateful to all of these philanthropic individuals whose legacies will help so many of our future patients.

A New Chair for Connective Tissue Research

U-M research and care in scleroderma and other connective-tissue disorders took a major step forward in October when James Seibold, MD (far right) was installed as the first Marvin and Betty Danto Research Professor in Connective Tissue Research. The endowed chair was made possible by a $2 million gift from Mr. and Mrs. Danto in recognition of Mr. Danto’s treatment for scleroderma at U-M. This complex, little-understood condition can be debilitating and often deadly as it attacks the skin, heart and lungs. The Dantos have given a tremendous gift to help others who are fighting this disease. With the support of donors like them, Dr. Seibold and his colleagues are pursuing focused research into the basic mechanisms of the disease, as well as continued efforts in developing promising treatments.