Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation and the Mandel Supporting Foundations award $8 million to health education campus

Grant to support Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic’s health education campus conference center; wellness & preventive care education

Rendering of the CWRU Cleveland Clinic health education campus

The Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Foundation and the Mandel Supporting Foundations announced an $8 million grant to the health education campus of Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic. The award will support construction of a nearly 12,000-square-foot educational conference center within the health education campus, as well as development of an academic pathway for medical students who want to focus on wellness and preventive care education.

“This partnership between Case Western Reserve and Cleveland Clinic appears to me to hold great potential to positively impact health education,” said Morton Mandel, chairman and CEO of the Mandel Foundation.

Decades of studies have demonstrated that the vast majority of chronic conditions can be ameliorated or even eliminated through changes in lifestyle. The leading root causes of death in this country are tobacco use, poor diet and physical inactivity, and alcohol consumption. Research abroad has confirmed the compelling impact of behavior on outcomes. A study of more than 23,000 people in Germany, for example, found that four choices reduced the risk of chronic disease by 80 percent: never smoking; maintaining a Body Mass Index lower than 30; exercising at least 3.5 hours a week; and healthy eating (lots of fruits and vegetables, whole-grain bread, and low meat consumption).

The reasons for the persistence of poor choices range from economic (for example, the persistence of “food deserts” in inner-city areas that offer limited access to healthy choices) to environmental (walkability, land use and so forth), to social, psychological, educational and more. Engaging some of the nation’s top medical students in exploring and understanding these complex issues, then, could provide new insights—not to mention meaningful change.

The Mandel Foundation commitment includes $1.5 million to support development of a wellness and prevention pathway, as well as another $1.5 million to endow a professorship for that pathway. This faculty leader would lead creation of the new curriculum, recruit students to the program, and help integrate the pathway’s innovative approaches into residencies and other hospital training programs at Cleveland Clinic.

Toby Cosgrove, MD, Cleveland Clinic’s president and CEO, is well-known for his advocacy of healthier choices. In 2005, the hospital system adopted a smoke-free policy, and two years later decided it would no longer hire smokers. The hospital removed fryers from its own food offerings, and introduced yoga and exercise classes.

“The Mandel Foundation has provided us with an important opportunity to add a specific prevention and wellness focus to our medical education programs,” Cosgrove said. “We know that lifestyle choices have a major impact on health. This grant will allow us to train the next generation of health care providers with this in mind, turning our knowledge into meaningful change.”

The remaining $5 million of the grant will support a conference center that will include a 12,000-square-foot auditorium and lecture hall that can be converted into three smaller rooms. By providing such large, state-of-the art learning spaces, the foundation seeks to advance one of the central principles of the health education campus: true innovation in inter-professional education. As home to education programs in dentistry, nursing and medicine, the 485,000-square-foot campus is designed to encourage interaction among students both inside and out of class. The building features shared dining areas, student lounges and more.

“Research shows that team-based health care leads to better outcomes for patients and higher job satisfaction for the professionals who treat them,” President Barbara R. Snyder said. “By integrating elements of these students’ coursework, and providing so much common space, we aim to graduate students with a deep understanding and appreciation of how each profession can contribute to the patients’ best interest. We deeply appreciate the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation’s support for these efforts.”