A $24-million donation to the University of British Columbia’s faculty of medicine will expand research aimed at helping people live longer and enjoy a better quality of life in their later years.
The donation, from businessman, philanthropist and UBC alumnus Edwin S.H. Leong, is the largest gift that UBC’s medical school has ever received from an individual.
“My wish is for everybody to live long and die peacefully, and I believe healthy aging is the key to that,” said Leong. “This is an investment in people, and I have great confidence that by bringing together and supporting the brightest people in this field, UBC will be able to show us the way.”
The donation, from Leong’s Tai Hung Fai Charitable Foundation in Hong Kong, will establish the Edwin S.H. Leong Healthy Aging Program. The gift enables UBC to recruit the Edwin S.H. Leong UBC Chair in Healthy Aging, the Edwin S.H. Leong UBC Professor in Healthy Aging, and early to mid-career faculty, all supported by trainees and research staff. This gift also will complement and enhance excellence in healthy aging research through collaboration with scientists and clinicians across UBC and around the world.
Recruitment of an internationally recognized researcher to fill the Edwin S.H. Leong UBC Chair in Healthy Aging will begin shortly.
“I am inspired by Edwin’s vision of a world in which people can age in better health with greater mental and physical agility,” said UBC President Santa J. Ono. “Edwin’s friendship and transformative donation to UBC are highly valued and the university is honoured to partner with him and his foundation to build a successful program that addresses this critical societal need.”
“This visionary donation will enable UBC to create a centre of excellence in healthy aging, where leading researchers from across disciplines can devise innovative strategies for extending longevity and improving quality of life,” said Dr. Dermot Kelleher, dean of the faculty of medicine. “Advancing our knowledge of healthy aging will have far-reaching impacts on people around the world.”
Leong, 66, earned his bachelor of science degree from UBC in 1973 before founding his property development company, Tai Hung Fai Group, in Hong Kong in 1977. His company has built hotels, shopping centres and commercial buildings throughout Hong Kong. The group has been engaging in different charitable initiatives since 2005 and The Tai Hung Fai Charitable Foundation was then established in 2013 for increasing charity commitments. The foundation has a history of philanthropy focused on helping disadvantaged elderly and underprivileged children, providing scholarships, supporting medical and other research, and health care.