Dr. Andrew Weil commits $15M to name UA Center for Integrative Medicine
Integrative medicine pioneer, best-selling author and philanthropist Andrew Weil, M.D., has committed $15 million to name the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine – adding to his previous gifts totaling $5 million – ensuring the UA is the world’s nexus of integrative medicine education, research and innovation.
Weil made the announcement today at a news conference. Joining him were UA President Robert C. Robbins, UA Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Michael D. Dake and Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine Executive Director Victoria Maizes.
In addition to naming the center, Weil’s commitment establishes the Andrew Weil Endowed Chair in Integrative Medicine, the Andrew Weil Endowed Chair for Research in Integrative Medicine and the Andrew Weil Endowed Program Fund for Integrative Medicine. Both chairs will benefit from the UA’s Eminent Scholars Program, established to help the university recruit and retain top faculty. Through the program, donated funds are augmented in order to grow the endowment faster and to provide more immediate support than is typical with an endowed chair.
“This gift marks the high point of my career at the University of Arizona,” Weil said. “More than 20 years ago, with strong support from (then Vice President for Health Sciences) Jim Dalen, the College of Medicine and the Tucson community, we established the nation’s first Fellowship in Integrative Medicine with the aim of redesigning the education of physicians, physicians-in-training, and allied health professionals. We believed by doing this, we could impact our nation’s struggling health care system by providing it with doctors trained to focus on the innate healing potential of patients. In addition to the best practices of modern medicine, we emphasized nutrition, a healthful lifestyle, natural therapies, and mind-body interventions, and spirituality. Perhaps those concepts were seen as radical in some circles, but today they are accepted as mainstream by most practitioners and by the estimated 8 million patients our program has directly and indirectly impacted.”
Robbins added, “The UA Center for Integrative Medicine has a longstanding history of leadership in promoting a healthful lifestyle and taking greater responsibility for our own health, due to Dr. Andrew Weil’s vision and innovation. We owe Dr. Weil a debt of gratitude for making integrative medicine a significant component of our nation’s medical education, practice and research. It is truly fitting that the center will now bear his name.”
Since its founding, the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine has sought to transform health care by creating, educating and supporting a community of practitioners that embodies the philosophy and practice of healing-oriented medicine. The center is internationally recognized for its innovative educational programs, evidence-based clinical practice and research that substantiates the field of integrative medicine and influences public policy.
Maizes, the center’s director since 2004, will be the inaugural holder of the Andrew Weil Endowed Chair in Integrative Medicine. Internationally recognized as a leader in integrative medicine, Maizes oversaw the growth of the center from a small program educating four residential fellows a year to a UA Center of Excellence training more than 500 residents and fellows annually. A graduate of Barnard College, Maizes received her medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco. She completed her residency in family medicine at the University of Missouri, Columbia and her fellowship in integrative medicine at the UA.
The inaugural holder of the Andrew Weil Endowed Chair for Research in Integrative Medicine is Esther Sternberg, M.D., director of research for the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine since 2012. Sternberg is internationally recognized for her research in brain-immune interactions and the effects of the brain’s stress response on health. She is founding director of the UA Institute on Place and Wellbeing, an interdisciplinary institute linking health professionals and design professionals to research and create spaces that support health and wellbeing. She received her medical degree and trained in rheumatology at McGill University in Montreal.
Weil’s gift also will fund the Andrew Weil Endowed Program Fund for Integrative Medicine, which will support the center’s teaching and research mission in perpetuity.
“Dr. Weil is a visionary who has put the UA on the map for integrative medicine,” said John-Paul Roczniak, president and CEO of the UA Foundation. “These endowments honor his belief that healing-oriented medicine should be available to all and ensure that the impact of this important work continues to grow.”
Combining a Harvard education and a lifetime of practicing natural and preventive medicine, Weil founded the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona in 1994. He holds the Lovell-Jones endowed chair in integrative rheumatology and is clinical professor of medicine and professor of public health. Weil is also a founder and co-owner of the growing group of True Food Kitchen restaurants. A frequent lecturer and guest on talk shows, he is an internationally recognized expert on medicinal plants, alternative medicine and the reform of medical education.
In 1994, the UA made medical history when it established the world’s first program in integrative medicine. Three years later, the UA created a two-year residential fellowship that went on to serve as a national model for training physicians in integrative medicine. The two-year fellowship has been the cornerstone of the center’s educational programming and has graduated more than 1,800 fellows from throughout the world.
Today, alumni of the fellowship program are leading integrative medicine programs at such prestigious institutions as the Tufts Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, the University of Southern California Institute for Integrative Health, the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute and the University of Kentucky Integrative Medicine & Health program, among many others. Alumni also lead international initiatives in Israel, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Thailand, Korea, Pakistan and other countries.