UCSF Department of Medicine: “All in the Family: Sharing Information, Saving Lives

Sep 22, 2013

UCSF’s 2013 feature draws on Thomas Weisel’s committed support to eradicating a type of gastro-intestinal cancer called Lynch syndrome. Thom Weisel works closely with gastroenterologist Jonathan Terdiman, MD, founder of the Hereditary Gastro-Intestinal Cancer Prevention Program. The article discusses Terdiman and Weisel’s professional relationship and focuses on the work they have done together.

Weisel has made multiple generous donations to Terdiman’s work, including a large gift to Terdiman and colleagues’ project KinTalk—a web-based tool that allows families to ask UCSF staff and faculty about Lynch syndrome and to speak with each other, as well as making communication about the disease accessible to the general public. The site also allows users to post results of genetic testing and share other important information with each other.

“Instead of missed voicemails and shuffling all this paper, we now have a single area of high-quality, easily accessible data for a family to look at,” Terdiman says of the project.

The article also provides some of Weisel’s beliefs about KinTalk and its importance. “Although medicine is often notoriously bad at using technology to address problems, this is clearly a great application of technology,” he said. “What’s really needed is that it can be applied to a lot of other areas. Whether it’s a certain type of cancer or some other medical issue, it puts an affinity group—members who share the same issues—in a secure environment, and allows them to talk to each other.”

The article specifies that there are no other research grants or clinical funds to create a resource like KinTalk, making philanthropy and Weisel’s investment in the project crucial. Because of Weisel’s support, Terdiman has been able to present the KinTalk model to others in the medical field—and other institutions interested in using the technology have reached out to him as well.

“As an investment banker in the tech industry, Mr. Weisel understood the power of this tool, and we are incredibly grateful for his generosity,” said Terdiman.

Sep 22, 2013