Harvard's health school to get record $350M gift

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Harvard's health school to get record $350M gift
NFL football commissioner Roger Goodell heads to the podium to deliver a Dean’s Distinguished Lecture at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, where he discussed some of the rules that have been created to limit concussions in the game of football. Goodell said the league will do what it needs to do to protect the safety of its 1,800 players. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 24: Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States and Founder of the Clinton Foundation receives the Centennial Medal from the Harvard School of Public Health on October 24, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)
Dr. Elena Bodnar, winner of the Ig Nobel Public Health Prize, displays a bra she designed that converts into a pair of gas masks, during the Ig Nobel prize awards ceremony on Harvard University's campus in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009. Bodnar said that the bra/gas masks could have been useful during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. One mask is for the wearer and the other for a friend. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 24: Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway and Former Director General of World Health Organization (L), receives the Centennial Award from Harvard School of Public Health Dean of Faculty Julio Frenk on October 24, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)
Dr. Jonathan Mann, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, and an early pioneer in the fight against AIDS, was among the 229 people killed in the crash of Swissair flight 111 in 1998, along with his wife, the AIDS researcher Mary-Lou Clements-Mann. Mann, seen here in Geneva, Switzerland, August 1998, was the outspoken head of the U.N. Global Program on AIDS during the 1980s and resigned in 1990 following a bitter disagreement with Hiroshi Nakajima, the then World Health Organization director-general. (AP Photo/Keystone)
Dr. John F. Enders, left, of the Harvard Medical School and Dr. Thomas H. Weller of the Harvard School of Public Health are shown at a news conference in the Children's Hospital in Boston Oct. 21, 1954 after they were awarded the 1954 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology. The two scientists will share the $35, 066 prize with associate, Dr. Federick C. Robbins, now at Western Reserve Medical School in Cleveland. Dr. Enders and Weller were cited for developing new weapons in the flight against polio. (AP Photo)
Countess Albina du Boisrouvray cuts the ribbon during the dedication of the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Building and Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 1996, as Harvard University President Neil Rudenstine, left, and Dean of Harvard School of Public Health Harvey Fineberg assist. Countess du Boisrouvray dedicates the building in memory of her son Francois, 24, who was a helicopter rescue pilot killed in a helicopter accident in Mali, West Africa in 1986, while flying missions for the Paris-to Dakar auto rally. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)
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By BOB SALSBERG

BOSTON (AP) - A $350 million gift pledged to Harvard University's School of Public Health is the largest single donation in the university's long history, officials said, and will help bolster research in several key areas including global pandemics.

The donation, to be formally announced Monday, comes from a philanthropic foundation established by the family of T.H. Chan, a Hong Kong real estate developer who died in 1986.

In a rarity for Harvard, the school will be renamed the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The only other school within the university to bear an individual's name is the Harvard Kennedy School, named for John F. Kennedy.

"I think he would have been very pleased ... that the school would be part of his legacy," said Dr. Gerald Chan, describing his father as a staunch supporter of education who often helped family friends pay for schooling or study abroad.

"It was very much in keeping with how he lived his life and what he held to be important," said Chan, who earned his own master's degree from the public health school in 1979.

Julio Frenk, the school's dean, called the $350 million endowment from The Morningside Foundation a "transformational gift," one that will help students and faculty working to stop pandemics such as Ebola and malaria, cancer and obesity, and address global health threats stemming from war, poverty, environmental hazards, and failing health care systems.

"We can apply it to the priorities of the moment and those priorities that are likely to evolve because public health is a very dynamic field," said Frenk.

A researcher was already involved in trying to trace the origin of the current Ebola outbreak in western Africa, he said, while another was examining how mobile technology can be used to track Ebola patients.

Proceeds from the gift also will be used to expand student financial aid and provide loan forgiveness to graduates who decide to work in underserved U.S. communities or poor countries. The oldest continuously operating school of public health in the world, it celebrated its centennial anniversary last year.

The largest previous single gift to Harvard University was $150 million for financial aid given in February by Kenneth Griffin, founder of the Citadel hedge fund management company.

Billionaire philanthropist Hansjorg Wyss has made a pair of $125 million gifts in recent years to a bioengineering institute.

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