Impact of Giving

These are the stories of the individuals and foundations who help advance Chicago medicine and science through their vision and philanthropy.

Vince Foglia

Donor Stories

Family Foundation Funds Cancer Research

Businessman Vince Foglia strongly believes in investing in people. The chief executive officer and chairman of the board for disposable health care products developer Sage Products Inc., demonstrates that commitment not only through his work, but also as a philanthropist. He has funded $250,000 toward Professor Ralph Weichselbaum, MD’s, research initiatives, which examine the effect of chemoradiation inducible gene therapy on head and neck, esophageal, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.

“Very few people in the world live like we live,” Foglia says. “We all have an obligation to help as many people as we can.”

So when Foglia met Weichselbaum, a leader in radiation therapy and chemotherapy at the University of Chicago Medical Center, it was no surprise that his family foundation would contribute to Weichselbaum’s research efforts. “I liked him right away,” Foglia says. “The connection was really due to our backgrounds and the neighborhoods where we both grew up, but I’ve also come to learn that he conducts significant work in his field.”

Since their initial meeting five years ago, Foglia has funded $250,000 toward Weichselbaum’s research initiatives. “I’m proud to be associated with him,” Foglia says, “and I’m proud to be associated with the University of Chicago.”

Funds transform professor’s work
Weichselbaum, the D.K. Ludwig Professor of Radiation and Cellular Oncology and Chairman of that Department, has continued his research on how radiation therapy attacks blood vessels and regulates genes. “His gifts have been very transformative for my work and I’m very grateful,” Weichselbaum says of Foglia. “If it wasn’t for his seed funding, I wouldn’t have been as successful obtaining other grants.”

Weichselbaum acknowledged that it was Foglia’s initial contribution that paved the way for him to secure a $2 million National Institutes of Health gift as well as a $50 million donation by the D.K. Ludwig Fund for Cancer Research.

His gift from the Ludwig fund focused on metastasis, the process by which cancer cells migrate from a primary tumor to multiple sites. “Although it is a distinct, complicated, multi-step physiological process with its own dynamics, metastasis has remained largely unexplored and thus poorly understood,” says Weichselbaum.

Faith in medicine
Despite nearly being paralyzed from the waist down after suffering a spinal cord injury several years ago, Foglia’s faith in medicine and his role as a leader hasn’t waned. “I’m obligated as a leader to be upbeat and keep going.”

It is that attitude and his office’s open-door policy that some might say led to his company being named “A Best Medium Sized Company to Work for in America” by The Great Place to Work Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management four years in a row. In 2004, Foglia and his wife Pat were also named “distinguished benefactors” by the Chicago Chapter of Fundraising Professionals.

Like Weichselbaum, Foglia was born and raised on the West Side of Chicago with a drive to succeed and a family who supported his ambitions. Generous as they were, Foglia’s family was also his greatest example of philanthropy as a child. “I watched my father and mother as I was growing up and they were so very giving,” he says. “That’s the legacy I plan to leave with my family.”

For more information, contact Callie Johnston at cjohnston@mcdmail.uchicago.edu.

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