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Jacobs family philanthropy moves into health

Families often cite creating a lasting legacy alongside making a difference as one of the most important tenets of their philanthropy. One US family is aiming to do just that with a new gift.

Jeremy M Jacobs is second-generation chairman and CEO of family-owned Delaware North Companies, a worldwide leader in hospitality and one of the largest privately held companies in North America with revenues of $2 billion.

On 11 June he made a $10 million gift to the University at Buffalo, his alma mater, to establish the Jacobs Institute, which will support research and clinical collaboration on the causes, treatment and prevention of heart and vascular diseases.

The Jacobs' gift is the largest single gift ever received by the university and makes the Jacobs family its most generous donor, with gifts totalling $18.4 million.

"I support the vision of bringing the brightest minds together in one place to focus on clinical care, research and teaching with an entrepreneurial spirit to solve challenging problems," said Jacobs. "It is my hope that this gift will help provide an avenue for establishing Buffalo as a world-class centre for state-of-the-art research, treatment and teaching in the areas of vascular and heart diseases. With the collaboration of the Jacobs Institute, UB and Kaleida Health, we have the opportunity to dramatically change health care in Western New York for the better," said Jacobs.

The gift is dependent upon the building of a dedicated facility to be the centre of excellence in cardiology, vascular disease and neurology. The centre will be a first-of-its-kind, multi-dimensional medical institute focused on the full spectrum of vascular health care.

UB president John B Simpson believes the gift will produce research, education and clinical-care synergies that are essential for major advancements in healthcare. "The commitment from the Jacobs family is significant on a number of levels," he said. "First, this is a powerful example of how our community can work together to both nurture and attract world-class medical research to Western New York. Second, it demonstrates a commitment to reinventing our community to be competitive in the 21st century."

The Jacobs family has long provided philanthropic leadership in the region, with a particular emphasis on higher education, providing financial support for a number of UB's most important academic initiatives; for example funding scholarships for exceptional undergraduates in the UB Honors College, providing financial aid to female student-athletes, and creating flexible funds for innovation and special needs.

In the mid-1980s, Jacobs gave more than $1 million to help fund two academic chairs and support a UB School of Management MBA programme in China, the first academic partnership between a US university and that evolving nation. A School of Management building on UB's North Campus bears the Jacobs family name, in honour of his longstanding generosity.

However, this new gift was made in honour of Jacobs's late brother Lawrence D Jacobs, a world-renowned medical pioneer in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Lawrence was also chair of the Department of Neurology in UB's School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and chief of neurology at Buffalo General Hospital at the time of his death.

Pamela Jacobs Vogt, Lawrence's wife said: "Since Larry died in 2001, we have been looking for a suitable tribute to him and his work. The creation of the Jacobs Institute will radically improve healthcare, research and teaching in Western New York and is a fitting tribute to his life, his work and his memory."

When it comes to creating a long-lasting legacy, the Jacobs family is extending its philanthropic mission in an effort to stand out from the crowd.

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