NEW YORK (June 17, 2021) — Building on a legacy of groundbreaking advances in medicine and science, Weill Cornell Medicine today launched an ambitious $1.5 billion campaign—with more than $750 million already raised—that will harness emerging biomedical innovations to bring exemplary care to patients and create enduring change in medicine.
The We’re Changing Medicine campaign is the largest in Weill Cornell Medicine’s history and its first campaign in decades to advance and synergize all three institutional missions: to care, discover and teach. Exemplifying the Cornell University mission of doing the greatest good, the new campaign will instill this essential value in the next generation of physicians and scientists, who will shape an innovative and equitable future of medicine.
Powering the We’re Changing Medicine campaign is $215 million in foundational gifts from several of the institution’s most longstanding benefactors. In 2019, during the campaign’s quiet phase, a lead gift from The Starr Foundation, chaired by Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Fellows member Maurice R. Greenberg, in partnership with gifts from The Weill Family Foundation, created by Joan and Sanford I. Weill, campaign co-chair and Board of Fellows chairman emeritus, and other generous donors that together totaled $160 million, established a game-changing scholarship program that provides debt-free education to medical students in financial need.
A $55 million gift in 2020 from Board of Fellows Vice Chair and campaign Co-Chair Jeffrey Feil and the Feil family will support the construction of a new student residence hall four blocks from the institution’s main campus, which will further enhance Weill Cornell Medicine’s student experience.
A Campaign to Change Medicine
The We’re Changing Medicine campaign will reimagine the basic science landscape; invest in bench-to-bedside research discoveries, including a precision health enterprise that focuses on personalized disease prevention and treatment; and support a diverse and gifted student body.
“Innovation has always been a driving force for our institution, setting new standards for clinical care, research and education that have made a lasting impact for patients around the globe,” said Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Fellows Chairman Jessica M. Bibliowicz. “We are profoundly grateful to our incredible donors for sharing and supporting our health care ideals, because philanthropy is the engine by which we can realize transformational change. Together we are changing medicine.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated just how important medicine is to protect and enhance the health of our patients,” said Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine and provost for medical affairs of Cornell University. “Our accomplished physicians and scientists are committed to treating the whole patient for their whole lifespan, applying cutting-edge science and a personalized and evidence-based approach to prevent and treat disease. Because of our generous donors, Weill Cornell Medicine is uniquely positioned to meet today’s health care challenges and change medicine—because we can and must.”
“Enhancing the health care patients receive is one of the most tangible ways we can effect change in society,” said Cornell University Board of Trustees Chairman Robert S. Harrison. “This auspicious milestone will embolden Weill Cornell Medicine’s distinguished doctors, researchers and trainees to continue their vital mission to change medicine.”
“Throughout its illustrious history, Cornell has championed radical ideas and pioneering approaches that can make the biggest impact for the largest number of people,” said Martha E. Pollack, president of Cornell University. “Weill Cornell Medicine exemplifies our mission to develop solutions that meet tomorrow’s most pressing challenges, and the We’re Changing Medicine campaign will ensure long-lasting advances in science and medicine.”
“Weill Cornell Medicine’s world-class physicians, scientists and students are making tremendous strides every day to ensure that patients around the globe receive the best medical care,” said Board Fellow Sandy Weill. “Leveraging our strengths and sharing our talents with the world, we’re changing medicine for the better, but there is always more work to do. By further investing in what makes us special, we can realize our new vision of health care. I am so excited about what we can—and must—accomplish together with this new campaign.”
Changing Medicine Through Innovation
The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a profound testament to the ways in which medicine can transform lives, how scientific breakthroughs can have powerful clinical implications, and how health care disparities can disproportionally affect vulnerable populations. With an unrivaled culture of cross-disciplinary collaboration, Weill Cornell Medicine has long championed innovative solutions to the most intractable health issues facing society. Underscoring its commitment to compassionately care for the whole patient for their whole life, Weill Cornell Medicine is intensifying its investments in its world-class institutes and laboratories to create brand-new facilities and updated biomedical research space at its Belfer Research Building and main campus buildings along the east side of 1300 York Ave. These research enhancements will empower Weill Cornell Medicine’s scientists to accelerate their efforts to create life-saving treatments and cures.
Through the We’re Changing Medicine campaign, Weill Cornell Medicine is investing in cutting-edge technology and new biomedical approaches—from genomics and data science to artificial intelligence and machine learning—that illuminate the precise origins of disease and the most optimal ways to personalize treatments. Harnessing advanced research techniques that explore the human genome, as well as observations about how demographics, social influences and lifestyle choices influence well-being, Weill Cornell Medicine will create a robust precision health enterprise that will holistically evaluate the individual factors that underlie disease development. By understanding the drivers of disease, Weill Cornell Medicine physicians and scientists, including those based in the Meyer Cancer Center, and the Englander Institute for Precision Medicine, will be able to discern each person’s individual health risk, create personalized prevention strategies and help avert the occurrence of severe disease. Further investments in regenerative medicine and cellular therapeutics will rapidly accelerate the discovery of new treatments and therapies, enabling patients to benefit from the latest medicines should they need intervention. Data generated from precision health approaches will enable investigators to spot patterns and trends—and potentially uncover the answers to the most vexing health care questions.
Weill Cornell Medicine’s reputation for clinical excellence is rooted in a longstanding commitment to providing comprehensive, holistic care throughout an entire lifespan, beginning with the youngest of patients. In collaboration with the Drukier Institute for Children’s Health, Weill Cornell Medicine is expanding its children’s research efforts to drive new discoveries that will set the stage for a healthy life.
The We’re Changing Medicine campaign will also enable the institution to enrich its focus on women’s health and infectious diseases, as well as diseases and disorders that affect the heart, brain and metabolic system, ensuring the translation of the latest research insights into next-generation treatments and therapies that can transform the health of patients around the world.
Changing Medicine Through Empowerment
Ensuring a healthier, more innovative future of health care is entwined with cultivating the next generation of exceptionally talented physicians and scientists. The institution’s expanded scholarship program, established in 2019 through the generous support of the Weill Family Foundation, The Starr Foundation, the Robert Dow family and a myriad of other donors, exemplifies Weill Cornell Medicine’s commitment to changing medicine by empowering future physicians and scientists to pursue their career aspirations unencumbered by the burden of repaying educational debt. To encourage equity in health care, the program defrays the institution’s cost of attendance for all medical students who qualify for financial aid, replacing student loans with scholarships that cover tuition, housing and other living expenses. Offering debt-free medical education has fostered a more diverse student body: Applications for Weill Cornell Medical College’s Class of 2024 from students underrepresented in medicine rose to 29 percent, compared with 20 percent the previous year. To ensure this program continues in perpetuity, the institution will need to raise another $40 million to fully fund its scholarship endowment.
“Since its founding in 1955, The Starr Foundation has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to scholarship funds around the world, but our grant to Weill Cornell is the largest in our history,” said Board Fellow Greenberg, chairman of The Starr Foundation. “We are pleased to help Weill Cornell students who otherwise would graduate from medical school with significant debt.”
Weill Cornell Medicine’s commitment to enhancing the student experience is equally reflected in the construction of a $264 million dynamic new residence hall near Weill Cornell Medicine’s main campus. Generously supported by a $55 million gift from Board of Fellows Vice Chair and campaign Co-Chair Feil and the Feil family, the proposed 176,000-square-foot residence hall, with expected occupancy in 2025, will nearly double the institution’s residential living space. It will feature spacious apartments and modern amenities that will support students’ physical and emotional well-being. The Feil family is a steadfast champion of Weill Cornell Medicine’s education mission, generously establishing the Feil Family Student Center in 2017 with a $12.5 million gift, as well as providing significant support for student scholarship and many other facets of the Weill Cornell Medicine mission.
“As medical and graduate students pursue their biomedical training, it is critical to provide them with a nurturing living and learning environment,” Board Vice Chair Feil said. “We are thrilled to support this new residence hall, which will encourage a culture of innovation, collegiality and collaboration to inspire our future leaders to keep changing medicine.”
For more information on the We’re Changing Medicine campaign, visit JoinTheChange.weill.cornell.edu.
Weill Cornell Medicine
Weill Cornell Medicine is committed to excellence in patient care, scientific discovery and the education of future physicians in New York City and around the world. The doctors and scientists of Weill Cornell Medicine—faculty from Weill Cornell Medical College, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and Weill Cornell Physician Organization—are engaged in world-class clinical care and cutting-edge research that connect patients to the latest treatment innovations and prevention strategies. Located in the heart of the Upper East Side's scientific corridor, Weill Cornell Medicine's powerful network of collaborators extends to its parent university Cornell University; to Qatar, where Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar offers a Cornell University medical degree; and to programs in Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Weill Cornell Medicine faculty provide exemplary patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Westchester Behavioral Health Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Queens and NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. Weill Cornell Medicine is also affiliated with Houston Methodist. For more information, visit weill.cornell.edu.