Lorry I. Lokey, the founder of Business Wire and a supporter of education and science, will give a minimum of $33 million to help build a home for Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.
Lokey, who has given away much of his fortune to educational institutions, said he turned his attention to stem cells in 2001, after the Bush administration limited federal funding for stem cell research, discouraging the study of these potentially powerful cells.
“The important thing to me is that stem cells might not only extend life, but also improve the quality of life, as so many people suffer in their later years,” said Lokey, who will turn 80 in March. “But I think stem cells will have applications across the entire life span.”
Lokey’s contribution to the School of Medicine will help launch construction of new stem cell laboratories on campus where scientists will probe the power of these elusive cells in treating conditions as diverse as cancer, stroke and diabetes. Lokey hopes the gift will be more than $33 million; the funds are being held in an account that is expected to grow in value before construction begins.
The anticipated schedule for the building calls for groundbreaking in 2009, with completion in 2011. The building, to be located between Campus Drive and the Center for Clinical Sciences Research, will be the first in a series of structures that will house the Stanford Institutes of Medicine.
“Lorry Lokey is a remarkably brilliant and committed individual. He has become a passionate and highly informed advocate for stem cell research, and is excited by the extraordinary work that is proceeding at Stanford under the banner of our Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine,” said Philip Pizzo, MD, dean of the School of Medicine.
“Because of his wonderful gift, we will be able to proceed with planning the space and facilities to house superb faculty and foster the process of basic discovery that ultimately leads to the translation of this knowledge to improve the lives of patients suffering from cancer, neurodegenerative processes, heart failure, immune dysfunction and others,” Pizzo said.
“This is an extraordinarily exciting time in science and medicine, and I am deeply appreciative to Lorry Lokey for his confidence in us and his support for Stanford.”
Lokey said he’s been enjoying giving away his fortune. In recent years, he’s donated about $300 million to various educational institutions, including Stanford, the University of Oregon, Mills College in Oakland, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Israel and his elementary school in Oregon. He oversees his foundation grants under the administration of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund in San Francisco.
“I did not want to go through life without this money being put to work so I could enjoy the fruits of its application. I began to think what it was that made me come out well in business,” he said. “In every question I asked myself, the answer was education.”
Lokey previously has made significant gifts to multiple projects at Stanford, including $20 million to help build the new Lorry I. Lokey Laboratory Building, which opened in 2004 and houses research labs for the departments of Chemistry and Biological Sciences. Lokey said every time he passes the building off Campus Drive, he glows.