The Safra Foundation has donated £5 million to establish a permanent position at Britain’s Imperial College for a professional position in Translational Neuroscience and Therapeutics and a neuroscience scholars’ program for career scientists researching neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
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The late Edmond J. Safra did in Monaco in 1999 after he was trapped in his home that had been set on fire. He was one of the world’s most successful bankers, beginning with the founding of Brazil’s Banco Safra S.A. after his father’s family moved there from Italy, where his father also had stablished a bank.
He was known for his philanthropy for medical research, humanitarian causes and secular and religious institutions in Israel, one of the most famous being the Safra Square at Jerusalem’s city hall.
Safra’s wife Lily, who has continued the family’s legacy of philanthropy, said , “Diseases of the brain like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are only becoming more prevalent, and I know first-hand the suffering they cause to patients and families.”
Professor Paul Matthews, Head of the Division of Brain Science, will be the first person to hold the positon. He has carried out research on the role of inflammation in neurodegenerative disease, will substantially strengthen a major research program integrating neurotechnology, “big data, ” imaging science and experimental neurology for the development of new diagnostics and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
The $5 million donation will fund a new senior postdoctoral fellowship program for young scientists conducting novel research in the area and will provide salaries, research costs and laboratory space for three years.
“This gift is a major investment in the future of neuroscience research at Imperial. It offers the flexibility we need to pursue high-risk, high-return science that will open up new directions in the fight against neurodegenerative conditions, ” said Prof. Matthews.
“Our intention is to build on the special strengths of technology, data science and medicine in the College, ” he added. “The ‘bench to bedside’ ethos of the program is intended to lead to improved methods for diagnosis, monitoring and treatment in the near medium term, but the impact of the gift will be felt for many years to come.”