If you have all the billions in the world, what would you do? Charles Feeney, a businessman and billionaire, committed to giving away all his money before he dies. Atlantic Philanthropies, a group he established, gives away $177 million to universities for the establishment of a brain health institute.
Global Brain Health Institute, a group that will provide training and connection among world leaders to address the growing predicament of dementia, specifically Alzheimer's disease, one of the leading causes of death among older adults.
Known as the 'billionaire who wasn't', he has been secretly giving away all his money to various causes for years now. Dubbed as the most generous philantrophist in modern times, he made the biggest donation and largest venture in order to stem the growing burden imposed by dementia.
"Our goal is to create a generation of leaders around the world who have the knowledge, skills and drive to change both the practice of dementia care and the public health and societal forces that affect brain health," Christopher G. Oechsli, CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies said in a press release.
They hope to dramatically lessen dementia cases being diagnosed among older adults. Aside from affecting millions of people, it also affects their main support system which includes families and primary caregivers.
Dementia affects an estimated 47.5 million people around the world and is expected to increase to around 75.6 million by 2030. The World Health Organization added that dementia is not a normal part of aging and is characterized by a wide array of brain illnesses affecting memory, thinking, behavior and ability to perform everyday activities.
Every four seconds, a person will be diagnosed with dementia and it imposes a big economic impact of around $604 billion per year. With nearly 50 percent estimated increase every 20 years, this syndrome can affect people and families across nations.
University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin will receive the grant to work in developing the brain institute and train around 600 global leaders with a variety of skills aimed to combat dementia.
Two programs are set to be developed. GBHI Fellows Program, which aims to train eight fellows a year for two years and Exchange Scholars Program, which will train around 32 multidisciplinary scholars for around one year.
The group aims to train leaders from various fields and expertise not just in medicine or public policy but also experts of social sciences, law, business, arts and journalism. In this way, they can impart their knowledge on preventable causes of dementia which disproportionately affect the poor and those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged.
The grant has brought the total donation of Charles Feeney to nearly $500 million for UCSF. Earlier this year, the university received $100 million for research focusing on neurosciences and aging. In 2009, he donated $125 million to UCSF Medical Center for the development of a complex to cater to cancer patients. Other donations were used for research purposes and establishment of facilities.
Being modest and grounded, he doesn't want much attention by avoiding interviews and declining to have buildings or establishments named by him. Earning money from a chain of duty-free shops, he anonymously donated millions to various programs that helped thousands of lives.