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Turkish Billionaire Donates $24M for Public Health

By Steven H. Tenzer, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: Septemebr 30, 2014, at 1:20 a.m.

Turkish entrepreneur Murat Ülker donated $24 million to the School of Public Health to create the Sabri Ülker Center for Nutrient, Genetic, and Metabolic Research, the school announced this week.

The gift follows a $350 million donation to HSPH by Hong Kongese billionaire and alumnus Gerald L. Chan, which was unveiled earlier this month.

The Sabri Ülker Center will address chronic metabolic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, according to a Monday press release. The gift will fund work led by Gökhan S. Hotamisligil, the Simmons Professor of Genetics and Metabolism, who is also of Turkish origin.

According to Hotamisligil, the donation will “advance and promote studies in a long-term, unrestricted manner…which allows us to think about things in a longer runway.”

“With rates of chronic metabolic disorders skyrocketing across the globe, this transformational gift comes at a time of great need for resources to support our basic research,” HSPH Dean Julio Frenk said in a press release.

Prior to the donation, Hotamisligil said, there were “not sufficient dollars to follow new paths.”

The gift honors the late Sabri Ülker, the donor’s father, who was a staunch supporter of public health and work safety and founder of Yildiz Holdings, a multinational food manufacturing company.

“We hope this contribution to science will benefit humanity greatly and we have every confidence in Professor Hotamisligil,” said Ali Ülker, grandson of Sabri Ülker and Vice Chairman of the Yildiz Holding Board of Directors, in the press release.

—Staff writer Steven H. Tenzer can be reached at stenzer@college.harvard.edu.

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