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About the Institute

Sidney and Madeline Forbes
Sidney and Madeline Forbes

Conquering cancer through discovery, innovation and team science

The institute was founded in June 2016 thanks to a generous $17.5 million gift from Sidney and Madeline Forbes of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Longtime Detroit-area philanthropists and dedicated U-M friends Madeline and Sidney Forbes are proud Wolverine parents and grandparents who generously support Michigan Medicine, Department of Athletics, and U-M Museum of Art. In one recent example of the family’s deep engagement with the university, the Forbes Company partnered with Michigan Medicine – which Sidney serves as a member of the Advisory Group – to co-host the annual Maize and Blue Go Pink event for breast cancer research at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Sidney founded The Forbes Company in 1996; its portfolio includes the Somerset Collection in Troy, Michigan, and several distinctive centers throughout Florida. Sidney’s distinguished history of philanthropy in the Detroit area includes generous support for the arts, medical research and education. He is a director emeritus of the Detroit Symphony Orchestras and honorary director of the Detroit Institute of the Arts. Madeline is a trustee of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of Metropolitan Detroit.

Max S. Wicha, MD
Max S. Wicha, M.D.

The center’s director is Max S. Wicha, M.D., Madeline and Sidney Forbes Professor of Oncology and director emeritus of the U-M Cancer Center.


Serving at the crossroads of scientific innovation, business and philanthropy, the Forbes Institute for Cancer Discovery will be the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center's engine for high-risk, high-reward projects. As an institute, it will bring an entirely new paradigm to advancing cancer research at U-M.

By providing bold, cross-departmental funding opportunities, the Institute fuels game-changing initiatives that drive breakthroughs in the latest areas of cancer research. This strategy sparks advances far beyond what we would expect through the incremental funding offered by government agencies and pharmaceutical companies, which often focuses on improving familiar approaches with periods of waiting between grants.

We will move rapidly to develop innovative technology and new therapies, advancing them from the laboratory concept to the clinic as quickly as possible. Our impact will be felt worldwide.

a graphical representation of the Institute's vision

Engaging physicians, engineers, chemists, computer scientists, mathematicians, and even physicists, among others, our focus will begin with our proven strengths in:

  • Personalized molecular therapeutics
  • Cancer stem cell research
  • Bioengineering
  • Immunotherapy

The Forbes Institute for Cancer Discovery will share expertise and capital resources with research enterprises throughout the Cancer Center; the Medical School; and the other schools, colleges and institutes, amplifying the entire U-M focus on conquering cancer. We will truly capitalize on the breadth and depth of expertise across the university, a unique strength that cannot readily be matched by freestanding cancer centers.

As part of the University of Michigan's North Campus Research Complex, we enable faculty partners from different schools and colleges to work side by side on their shared quest to conquer cancer. Scientists and engineers also will work with the Medical School’s Fast Forward initiative, the Business Engagement Center, the Ross School of Business and the Office of Technology Transfer to patent new technologies and spin off biotechnology companies that will likely be based in Southeastern Michigan. This accelerated effort will not only invigorate the economy, spearhead new industries and fuel continued investment in research, it will also ensure patients gain greater access to approaches that will help them overcome their disease.

For many of the 1.6 million Americans diagnosed with cancer every year, we will offer new hope.