Ellison Medical Foundation

Ellison Fights Aging, Then Cancer

  • Medicine & Health
  • 1997

In the 1990s, Oracle software founder Larry Ellison developed a friendship with Nobel-winning molecular biologist Joshua Lederberg of Rockefeller University. This led in 1997 to establishment of the Ellison Medical Foundation, with Lederberg as lead scientific adviser. For 15 years, the foundation supported basic biomedical research focused on understanding how organisms age, and how age-related diseases and debilities might be prevented. During that decade and a half, the foundation distributed $430 million of money donated by Ellison to 600 prominent or rising researchers. This financial surge advanced both the discipline of aging and the techniques of molecular biology (advanced versions of which are often required in age-related research).

In 2016, Ellison started a different medical-research organization, with a different approach. He donated $200 million to the University of Southern California to build a new interdisciplinary medical center focused particularly on cancer, but marshaling a wider than normal range of scientists and engineers to prevent, detect, and treat the disease. “The new institute will invite mathematicians, physicists, and other scientists to collaborate with cancer researchers from the traditional disciplines of medicine and biology. We believe the interdisciplinary approach will yield up new insights currently hidden in existing patient data,” explained Ellison.