NEW YORK, NY - The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) announced new gifts totaling $6.5 million from Mrs. Lily Safra and The Edmond J. Safra Foundation. A pledge of $4.5 million over two years from the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, and a personal gift of $2 million from Mrs. Lily Safra, are the latest expressions of a continuing partnership to speed medical breakthroughs and a cure for Parkinson's disease. Together with Mrs. Safra's personal gift of $1 million from her Jewels for Hope auction at Christie's in May 2012, these gifts bring the combined total support of MJFF by Mrs. Safra and The Edmond J. Safra Foundation to nearly $20 million since 2001.
"Lily is one of those people who set a new standard for compassion. Her extraordinary philanthropy in Edmond J. Safra's name, both within and outside the walls of our Foundation, celebrates knowledge, creativity and learning with one key goal: making this world a better place for those in need," said Michael J. Fox.
"It has been my special privilege to know Lily Safra for over a decade now... but it has been for much longer than 10 years that I've admired her thoughtfulness, her grace, and her caring heart."
Mrs. Safra, who chairs The Edmond J. Safra Foundation, is a member of the Board of Directors of The Michael J. Fox Foundation. At a ceremony preceding the November 8, 2012, meeting of the MJFF Board, Michael J. Fox and his wife, MJFF Board member Tracy Pollan, joined Mrs. Safra in officially dedicating The Edmond J. Safra Conference Room at MJFF. (See photo.)
"It is thanks to Michael J. Fox that the medical community and the larger public started paying attention to Parkinson's disease. And Michael's foundation has created a revolution in the way new treatments and new drugs are developed," said Mrs. Safra. "I am so proud to be part of this extraordinary organization."
A Partnership to Speed the Cure
"Mrs. Safra and The Edmond J. Safra Foundation have been among our most important and steadfast supporters since day one," said Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation. "Beyond financial support, they are consistently enthusiastic about our ideas — including our pursuit of high-risk, high-reward projects with great potential to impact patients' lives."
In 2008, MJFF renamed its core annual grant-making programs in honor of Mr. Safra. Other MJFF programs made possible by the leadership generosity of The Edmond J. Safra Foundation include MJFF's LEAPS (Linked Efforts to Accelerate Parkinson's Solutions) initiative, which brings together "all-star" teams of researchers to solve critical questions in Parkinson's diagnosis or treatment, and The Edmond J. Safra Global Genetics Consortia, designed to facilitate translational research based on the genetics and epidemiology of Parkinson's disease.
Meeting the Brin-Wojcicki Challenge
Mrs. Safra and The Edmond J. Safra Foundation strategically timed their giving to maximize the benefit of MJFF's $50-million Brin Wojcicki Challenge, which ended on December 31 after two full years. Mrs. Safra and The Edmond J. Safra Foundation's combined giving helped MJFF earn a total of $4.5 million toward the Challenge and surpass its $50-million goal.
Through the Challenge, giving by new donors and increased gifts from existing donors were matched dollar-for-dollar, up to a total of $50 million in matching funds. The Challenge was made possible by the leadership support of husband and wife Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google) and Anne Wojcicki (co-founder of 23andMe).