Why Philanthropy Matters

Steven Seltzer, MD, chair of the Department of Radiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Philip H. Cook Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School since 1997, shares his perspective on philanthropy in healthcare. Seltzer is a founding member of the Hippocrates Society, which recognizes current and former physicians and scientists at BWH and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital who have made lifetime contributions of $10,000 or more. Seltzer was the first chair to make a gift to the hospitals’ Life.Giving.Breakthroughs. campaign after its launch in September 2013.

What difference does philanthropy make to the health of our hospitals?
“Philanthropy gives us flexible and dependable sources of funding that enable us to explore unexpected breakthroughs, which are often the source of great innovation.”

How does philanthropy make a difference to your department?
“Practically speaking, a gift to radiology is a gift to the whole hospital. Because radiology is a core resource for the entire organization, support for radiology benefits every program in the hospital. This is why our department made significant gifts toward five endowed chairs. These endowments ensure a legacy of excellence by providing an enduring financial commitment to future generations of radiologists.”

What’s an example of transformative philanthropy in your work?
“One of my favorites is named for the longtime and much loved residency director in our department, Dr. Harry Mellins. For many of us who trained [at BWH], he was our first teacher. Giving to the Harry Mellins Fund is a way of paying it forward to those who will come after us. The fund awards our trainees academic spending accounts for expenses not covered by government grants, but essential to doing the work to earn such grants: travel, subscriptions to journals, laptops, things like that. After the Life. Giving. Breakthroughs. campaign kickoff in September, our family talked about making a significant gift and we were delighted to be able to give to the Mellins Fund.”

What kind of message does it send when our staff gives back to the hospitals?
“I believe giving back is part of our social responsibility. It’s both symbolic and practical. When we give back, we are leading by example. How can we ask others to give if we don’t?”