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Ilitches donate $8.5M to Wayne State University to fund surgical innovation

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
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The Story

Pizza and entertainment entrepreneurs Michael and Marian Ilitch donated $8.5 million to the Department of Surgery at the School of Medicine at Wayne State University to create the Ilitch Chair for Surgical Innovation. The money will establish an unrestricted fund to support research and development in surgical technologies.

“Michael and Marian Ilitch have made a transformative investmentin the Department of Surgery at our medical school,” WSU President M. Roy Wilson said in a news release. “Their commitment will help continue the department’s legacy of achievement. It also will advance research, which will inform the future of surgery and position Wayne State as a leader in health care innovation.”

Surgical innovations under way within the department include the development of the world’s first patient-specific surgical simulator, the school said in a news release announcing the gift. This technology will enable a surgeon to practice procedures on a 3D replica constructed from a patient’s CT scans. With practice, surgeons can identify the best approach for treatment and discover potential problems before making an incision. This simulation platform also may be used to design and test virtual models of medical devices, which can then be 3D printed as physical prototypes.

Other devices under development by the department include a “robotic finger with eyes” that will work inside the abdomen of a patient and send what it “sees” and “feels” directly to the surgeon’s finger.

The Ilitches’ gift will support similar technological advances, WSU said in the news release.

“We’ve made this gift to support the life-saving work of Dr. Weaver and his team at Wayne State University,” said Michael Ilitch. “We think of this as an investment in the future of health care that will support a great educational institution and benefit the people of Detroit, the state of Michigan and beyond.”

In recognition of the gift, Wayne State University will name the department the Michael and Marian Ilitch Department of Surgery.

“This gift is also about advancing Detroit as a center for health care innovation,” added Marian Ilitch. “Our community is rightfully proud of Detroit’s growing reputation as a center for high-tech health care. We are happy that our gift will help spur even more local innovation in this field, while attracting new people, companies, and jobs to Detroit and Southeast Michigan.”

Ilitches donate $8.5M to Wayne State University to aid surgical innovation | Detroit Free Press | freep.com.

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