COLUMBIA — Michael and Sharon Bukstein donated $1.1 million to MU’s School of Medicine for the advancement of research efforts and improving prevention, detection and treatment of cancer. The gift also establishes the Michael J. and Sharon R. Bukstein Chair in Cancer Research.
Michael Bukstein, who received his medical degree from MU in 1970, has maintained a close relationship with the university for more than 30 years. Bill Crist, dean of the School of Medicine, called Bukstein a “national leader in the fight against cancer.”
“It was Bill Crist who led me to give the gift,” Bukstein said. “He brought me under his wing and shared his vision of what the medical school could be, and I bought right into it.”
Charles Caldwell, the medical director of the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, said that with this gift, the university will try to recruit the best researchers possible to generate new ideas and research in cancer.
It’s the second major gift the school has received this year. In March, the late Margaret Proctor Mulligan gave the school a $6 million endowment to fund cardiovascular and breast cancer research.
The gift from the Bukstein family is not designated for a particular area of research because Bukstein thinks basic science is where most scientific breakthroughs will take place.
Bukstein said he’s impressed with the growth of MU’s medical school.
“My wife and I really believe that this university has gone from a great medical school to a tier-one medical school, and it just keeps going up,” he said. “We hope that by doing more research here that it will be able to garner more and more research — a kind of self-fulfilling dream.”
Bukstein currently serves as the CEO of Hannibal Clinic Operations in Hannibal, and his wife has served as the campaign chair for the United Way of the Mark Twain Area.
The School of Medicine held a ceremony May 2 celebrating the gift. Bukstein, wearing a Tiger logo necktie, said he was humbled to be honored.
“There’s no better feeling in life than being able to give back to your school,” he said. “It’s a wonderful feeling.”
The Buksteins’ gift is part of the For All We Call Mizzou campaign, which hopes to unveil its $1 billion goal in the spring of 2009. According to an MU news release, the university has so far raised $932.81 million.