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Yesterday Xavier Trias, the Mayor of Barcelona, recognized the philanthropic work of Esther Koplowitz and presented her with the Barcelona’s Gold Medal of Scientific Merit for her outstanding charitable contributions at the helm of the Esther Koplowitz Foundation.
Esther Koplowitz, is well known in Spain primarily as the controlling shareholder of Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC) the giant international construction, water and environmental services group, based in Barcelona and Madrid and publicly listed on the Spanish Stock Exchange. She is also well known there, though rather less so outside of Spain, for the charitable foundation she created to help those who are less fortunate than she has been herself.
She and her sister had inherited FCC from their father Earnest Koplowitz, who first acquired it in 1952 and subsequently built it into a huge enterprise. Earnest had moved to Spain from Germany before the Second World War to escape Nazi persecution. Today Esther’s own daughter, who is also called Esther (as indeed was her own mother), serves as Chairman of the company, taking on the responsibility just one year ago.
The Esther Koplowitz Foundation focuses primarily on social initiatives to help the most disadvantaged groups in society, and also on the promotion of science, especially biomedical research in Barcelona. She collected the award, Barcelona’s highest distinction, from the Mayor before an audience which included members of her family as well as Dr Vicente Arroyo, director of the Esther Koplowitz Centre for Biomedical Research.
Esther Koplowitz with the Mayor of Barcelona
The foundation established the Esther Koplowitz Centre in Barcelona, which was completed in 2010. The centre is one of the largest private sector institutions dedicated to biomedical research, and it is forging a reputation in its field in Europe.
More than 400 researchers from all over the world work at the centre, including many prestigious scientists who study there metabolism, diabetes, obesity, diseases of the digestive tract and liver, haematology and oncology, immunology, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular illnesses, Alzheimer’s, and poverty-related diseases.
Also in Barcelona, her foundation built the retirement home La Nostra Casa de Fort-Pienc for disadvantaged elderly people.
The foundation has also established and built – a second retirement home in Collado Villalba (Madrid), and a third centre in Valencia for people with physical and mental disabilities.
The Esther Koplowitz Foundation has also supported a wide variety of additional projects. Ms. Koplowitz donated a Da Vinci robot to the Hospital Clínico San Carlos in Madrid to support the robotic surgery programme there.
She has also helped a tactile vision project at Madrid’s Complutense University, funded other disease research programmes, granted a large number of scholarships to students without means, and built, outfitted and donated a centre for grant recipients, benefiting approximately 240 students each academic year.