“‘At the Forefront’ is more than a tagline.”

Photo of Andy Alper
University of Chicago Medical Center Trustee Andy Alper, AB‘80, MBA’81

University of Chicago Medical Center Trustee Andy Alper, AB‘80, MBA’81, is the chairman and founder of Alper Investments. He and his wife, Sharon Sadow Alper, AB‘80, JD‘84, have supported several major initiatives at UChicago Medicine and the University, including the cancer pavilion and the establishment of the Alper Family Professorship in Medicine and Molecular Engineering in the Wallman Society of Fellows.

Your philanthropic support over the years spans research and teaching, the cancer pavilion, and the Comprehensive Cancer Center. How do you see scientific investigation, patient care, and education intersecting at the University of Chicago Medicine?

I’ve been fortunate in life and I’m always looking for impactful ways to give back through my philanthropy. I believe that research universities and academic medical centers turbocharge my giving in three ways through that intersection: they create knowledge through cutting-edge research, they transfer that knowledge to the next generation through teaching, and they impact the world directly through their work in the clinic and hospital and through discovery of new drugs and tools.

As a donor, what do you hope the impact of your philanthropy will be?

Three things drive my philanthropy to the medical center and the University more broadly. The first is loyalty to an institution that has been very good to me and my family over multiple generations. My father graduated from the law school in the 1930s. My wife and I both earned two degrees and our oldest daughter graduated from the College in 2011.

The second is the desire to recognize and thank great leaders like Ken Polonsky and Bob Zimmer through support of scholarships in their honor. 

The third driver is the opportunity to support and encourage work that has the potential to make new discoveries that improve people’s future health and well-being. For instance, our family foundation provided expendable support to Jeffrey Hubbell, PhD, Eugene Bell Professor in Tissue Engineering at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME). He has developed a new type of vaccine that has shown it can reverse autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes in lab tests. The vaccine is now in phase 1 clinical trials. This success inspired us to fund a new professorship with a joint appointment to both the Division of the Biological Sciences and PME, which we hope will lead to new discoveries at the intersection of biology and molecular engineering.

What most inspires you about serving on the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees?

Healthcare is really important and really complicated from a biological, economic, and social perspective. “At the Forefront” is more than a tagline. We are simultaneously developing and delivering cutting-edge care while providing for an underserved and underinsured surrounding community. Serving on the UCMC Board of Trustees gives me a front row seat to some of the most brilliant minds in the world addressing these important challenges.

As a UCMC trustee, what are you most excited for in the future of UChicago Medicine?

From a research and discovery perspective, the medical center is uniquely positioned because of its close relationship with and physical proximity to the University of Chicago. The ability to easily collaborate across disciplines including biology, physics, chemistry, molecular engineering, and computer science creates an enormous competitive advantage.

From a care delivery perspective, our growing footprint in the western and southwestern suburbs and northwest Indiana expands our impact to a broader swath of Chicagoland. Finally, our new cancer pavilion, Chicago’s first freestanding cancer center, will provide patients from around the world with the newest diagnostic and therapeutic innovations.

What’s not to be excited about?

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