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Founder's Council

Lily Safra

Chairwoman • Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) mourns the loss of visionary philanthropist and Foundation Board member Lily Safra, who passed away on Saturday, July 9, 2022, at age 87.

Within months of MJFF’s inception, Mrs. Safra joined the Foundation’s Board of Directors, setting in motion an outpouring of strategic grant-making over the next two decades that transformed the course of Parkinson’s disease research and care. As chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, Mrs. Safra provided transformative support to hundreds of organizations around the world in the name of her late husband, Edmond J. Safra, a well-known international banker, and philanthropist.

The Edmond J. Safra Foundation supports hundreds of projects related to education, science and medicine, religion, culture, and humanitarian relief in over 50 countries, including a wide variety of programs in the area of Parkinson's disease research and patient care.

Mrs. Safra was honorary chairman of the International Sephardic Education Foundation (ISEF), which she established with her husband in 1977. ISEF is the largest non-profit organization promoting higher education for gifted Israelis from disadvantaged backgrounds. Mrs. Safra also served on the boards of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. Among her most significant initiatives for brain science are the establishment of the $130 million Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; a cutting-edge neuroscience center and the Alfredo J. Monteverde School (which teaches science and technology to 1,000 disadvantaged children) in Natal, Brazil; and Parkinson's disease programs at dozens of hospitals and research centers around the world.

Mrs. Safra’s personal generosity, paired with her leadership of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, provided sustained support for MJFF’s top scientific and care priorities. Read our tribute on the impact of her generosity on Parkinson’s disease research and care.

Mrs. Safra held honorary doctorates from institutions including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Brandeis University, and Imperial College London. She was an honorary fellow of King's College London and of the Courtauld Institute of Art. In addition, she served as a commandeur of France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and was named Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur by President Jacques Chirac.

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