Since 1991, the mission of
the Minnesota Colon and Rectal Foundation has been dedicated
to improving colorectal health through education, outreach,
research and specialized physician training.
The Foundation supports the training of surgeons in the specialty
of colorectal surgery in conjunction with the University
of Minnesota Fellowship Program. Since 1950, more than
145 graduates have completed the one year of intensified
training; a dozen of those trainees have spent an additional
year involved in a research fellowship, expanding upon
their work in the operating room and clinic to include
the research laboratory. Many of these graduates have distinguished
themselves through their research and pre-eminent patient
care and continue the tradition of teaching in hospitals
and universities throughout the United States and the world.
The Fellowship, for its first 25 years, trained no more
than three fellows per year. In 1976, that number grew
to four and proudly, since 2002, five clinical fellows
are being trained yearly.
The Foundation supports the varied research efforts of the
physicians of Colon and Rectal Surgery Associates. These
physicians, besides the responsibility of a full schedule
of surgeries and clinics and overseeing the teaching of
the five colorectal fellows, continue to seek out research
projects that will benefit their patients both in the immediate
and through long-term studies. Collaboration with physicians
at institutions like the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkin University
and M.D. Anderson and right here at the University of Minnesota,
are looking at ways to improve the quality of life for
those affected by cancer, incontinence, irritable bowel
disease and much more.
Education is the cornerstone of the MCRF tradition. The endeavor
is to teach and reach the caregivers that will in turn
provide support and education to the care seekers.
The Foundation supports the ongoing and critical continuing
education of surgeons by supporting the Principles and Practice
of Colorectal Surgery Course held each September in Minnesota.
The annual offering attracts over 150 physicians to learn about
cutting edge surgical techniques and progressive medicinal
applications to improve patient quality of life from experts
and leaders in the field of colorectal surgery.
Increasingly, the Foundation has taken on the role of educator
to the general public. In 2000, an official face was given
to what has been referred to as the cancer no one wants to
talk about – Colorectal Cancer. A declaration from the
President of the United States declared March as Colorectal
Cancer Awareness Month. In the months directly preceding this
declaration and the many months that have followed, the Foundation
has steadfastly sought out opportunities to educate the general
public about this most preventable of cancers. We were honored
to become a founding member of the Cancer Research and Prevention
Foundation who is coordinating the nationwide effort to improve
colorectal cancer screening rates. The Foundation is also a
founding member of the Minnesota Colorectal Cancer Consortium.
This volunteer group of health care professionals donate their
time throughout the year with one aim in mind: inform and educate
the public about colorectal cancer to thereby increase the
screening rate and decrease the mortality rate from this disease.
These efforts now culminate in an annual Summit that draws
on the expertise of those involved with healthcare to help
create a blueprint to meet this mission. The Foundation continues
to seek out educational opportunities not only for our leaders
and supporters, but through ongoing collaboration, to reach
out statewide to improve colorectal care for all citizens in
the state of Minnesota.
Initial funding for the Foundation came primarily from three
resources. The largest area of funding came from the area
hospitals that the physicians and MCRF serves. Together,
four hospital systems accounted for nearly $750,000 in
fellowship support. Nearly one half million dollars has
been donated by the partners of Colon and Rectal Surgery
Associates, Ltd. during the campaign
to fund the Foundation. Since the formal completion of the
fund drive in 1998, the physicians continue to give generously
and to support the Foundation in its public and professional
Alumni of the training program were first were approached to
help fund the Foundation through the “Continue the Tradition” campaign.
Over 40 alumni participated and gave over $165,000 in support.
The alumni continue to show their enthusiastic support of the
Foundation and its work through a number of other giving programs,
including the Stanley M. Goldberg, M.D., Chair at the University
of Minnesota - Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery; the Stanley
M. Goldberg, M.D., Fellowship established at the Foundation
to assist with fellowship training, the John G. Buls, M.D.,
Visiting Professorship, and an annual fund drive. To date,
alumni of the fellowship program have contributed over $250,000
to the Foundation.
The patients of Colon and Rectal Surgery Associates have supported
the Foundation for a number of years. Funds are collected through
a number of mailings during the year and through the various
special funds established by the Foundation. Donations are
also accepted in memory of loved ones lost to colorectal disease.
Additionally, special events conducted with the employees of
the practice have raised significant dollars.
Medical vendors have supported the Foundation for several years
to help fund the annual Colon and Rectal Surgery Principles
and Practice Course and other special events. The Foundation
continues to collaborate with these companies to help support
additional educational efforts for our physicians, fellows