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Profiles in Philanthropy

Below are profiles presented in appreciation of generous donors to the Department of Medicine:

Eugene Feiner Makes a Habit of Making a Difference

The opening on November 14, 2003, of the Center for Translational Medicine and the Eugene Feiner Laboratory for Vascular Biology and Thrombosis was an historic event for the Department. But it was a bit more routine for Gene Feiner, for whom philanthropy is part of everyday life.

Always a forward-thinker, Gene took great pride early in his career in making new possibilities a reality. He began to work for the Acme Manufacturing Company, then a modest local business, and over the decades built it into one of the largest manufacturers of its kind in the United States.

Close friend and colleague Martin Coopersmith, who has known Gene some forty years, says Gene's " belief in the premise of giving back and his interest in knowing and helping people comes from the modest circumstances he himself once knew." Gene feels that generosity is part of his success: " There is enough for everybody," he says.

Philanthropic efforts have been a commitment since Gene was a young businessman, but since selling his company in 1997 he has made it a priority. A member of the Thomas Jefferson University President's Club, he was also the Variety Club's Man of the Year in 2001.

A special interest in Israel has led Gene to fund a number of initiatives there, including a school library and recreation center in Haifa, where in June 2001 he received the key to the city. When asked about the five Russian orphans he sponsors in Israel, he says, " to save one person is to save the world," citing the Hebrew expression " Tikkun olam" (repair the world).

Gene met Geno Merli, MD, and Howard Weitz, MD, some ten years ago, and has been a patient and friend of Jefferson ever since. " Meeting doctors as personable as Geno and Howard, you sense their compassion as well as their expertise," he says. " That is the best that medicine today has to offer. It inspires me to help make possible research that will impact the livelihood of future generations in such an important way."

To learn more about giving opportunities or to make a donation to the Department of Medicine or one of our physicians, please contact Margaret Fala at (215) 955-7556 or via e-mail at Margaret.Fala@jefferson.edu.

A Tradition of Caring, George Zallie

George Zallie, who helped build ShopRite supermarket from a relative unknown to one of the largest chains in the region, has spent his life giving back to the communities and people who supported and helped him throughout the years. A longtime friend of Jefferson University, Mr. Zallie's generosity has made possible the George Zallie and Family Laboratory for Cardiovascular Gene Therapy in the Center for Translational Medicine, which supports the work of the Center's Director, Walter Koch PhD, also the W. W. Smith Professor of Medicine.

"In a time of ever-shrinking funding," says Dr. Koch, "Mr. Zallie's commitment to Jefferson and support of our lab has allowed us to stay competitive and continue to do cutting-edge molecular cardiovascular research."

Mr. Zallie, who was born in Ocean City, New Jersey, grew up helping his parents in the "mom-and-pop" store they ran in Philadelphia's Fishtown neighborhood (see bottom right). He traces his philanthropic nature back to his childhood during the Depression. One of six children, he saw his parents, who had emigrated from Albania, struggle to put food on the table. Yet, they always helped others who were also hungry.

"I remember my mother, with no money and six children to feed, lovingly sharing what little we had if someone came to the door and asked for something to eat," says Mr. Zallie. "It was a lesson in giving and respect that has stayed with me my entire life."

This lesson influenced Mr. Zallie's business practices as well. Having grown up steeped in the food and customer service industry, he opened his own store in 1956, which set off a long, successful career in the supermarket business. Now the owner of eight ShopRite markets in New Jersey, Mr. Zallie has a reputation for outstanding customer service as well as for treating his employees fairly and with honesty and integrity. He also has three sons and two grandsons in the business with him.

As he became more successful, Mr. Zallie began to focus on philanthropy and giving back to the South Jersey community where his businesses have prospered. Among the many organizations he supports are Partners in Caring, a community-based program run by ShopRite, and the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

His gratitude for the care he's received from Jefferson physicians over the years – including doctors Roger Daniels, MD, Barry Goldberg, MD, and Howard Weitz, MD – led to his generous gift of the new laboratory.

"I am particularly pleased to support the groundbreaking heart failure research being done at the Center for Translational Medicine," Mr. Zallie says. "I have referred many people to the program at Jefferson, and I am confident that the research they are doing will make a tremendous difference in generations to come."

The work of the lab that Mr. Zallie made possible continues to flourish: Recent clinical research has expanded, and the lab received funding to study more than 400 patients in different stages of heart failure and correlate their cardiac contractile function with an enzyme found in white blood cells. Additionally, the lab published a groundbreaking study in Nature Medicine (see page 2) and expects to publish another study in Circulation in 2007.

Supporting the Future of Medicine

The Department of Medicine has been fortunate to have a group of patients and friends who are dedicated to supporting the academic programs and research activities of the Department. These individuals recognize the importance of philanthropy in our ability to fulfill our core missions, and their generosity has led to the recent development of major new facilities for novel investigations and clinical care.

Eugene Feiner, George Zallie, and Evelyn R. Tabas (in Honor of Daniel M. Tabas)