A Chinese businessman and philanthropist has made the largest-ever individual donation to the University of British Columbia's faculty of medicine in Canada.
UBC alumnus Edwin S.H. Leong, a hotel and commercial property developer in China's Hong Kong, has donated 24 million Canadian dollars (about $18.5 million) to expand research aimed at helping people to live a longer and healthier life.
"My wish is for everybody to live long and die peacefully, and I believe healthy aging is the key to that," Leong said in a recent statement. "This is an investment in people, and I have great confidence that by bringing together and supporting the brightest people in this field, UBC will be able to show us the way," he said.
The donation was made from Leong's Tai Hung Fai Charitable Foundation in Hong Kong. Leong, 66, earned his bachelor of science degree from UBC in 1973.
The gift to the university will be used to set up the Edwin S.H. Leong Healthy Aging Program, said Dermot Kelleher, the dean of the faculty of medicine at UBC.
He told Xinhua on March 14 that the money will help the university recruit faculty members, researchers and support staff for the program.
The donation will also boost healthy aging research through collaboration with scientists and clinicians, both at the university and around the world.
Kelleher said Leong's donation demonstrates the developer's "deep humanity" and "deep feelings" for people who are reaching their later years and are finding it difficult to cope.
"It reflects the humanity and personality of Leong and his real interest in making a better world for everyone," Kelleher said.
In a statement, UBC President Santa J. Ono said he was inspired by Leong's vision for a world in which people can age healthily and with greater mental and physical agility.
"Edwin's friendship and transformative donation to UBC are highly valued and the university is honored to partner with him and his foundation to build a successful program that addresses this critical societal need," said Ono.