J.K. Rowling has already done great things for the literary world by creating books that got young people (and not-so-young people!) reading in the millions and, of course, for film audiences everywhere with the adaptation of her epic fantasy tale. Now, though, she has given even more, helping out with a number of charities and showing the difference that generosity can make.
The Guardian reports…
The author JK Rowling has donated £10m to set up a clinic to research treatments for multiple sclerosis, the degenerative disease that killed her mother at the age of 45, it was announced today.
The Anna Rowling regenerative neurology clinic, which will be based at the University of Edinburgh , will carry out research into a range of degenerative neurological conditions and diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntingdon’s and motor neurone disease.
The Harry Potter author has championed research into multiple sclerosis. In 2006, it emerged that she had given a “major” but undisclosed gift to Multiple Sclerosis Society Scotland towards setting up the university’s centre for multiple sclerosis research.
She had served as the patron of the society, but resigned last year after an internal battle over the charity’s reorganisation.
The university said the £10m was the largest direct donation Rowling had made to a charitable cause, and the biggest single gift the university had ever received.
“I have supported research into the cause and treatment of multiple sclerosis for many years now – but when I first saw the proposal for this clinic, I knew that I had found a project more exciting, more innovative, and, I believe, more likely to succeed in unravelling the mysteries of MS than any other I had read about or been asked to fund,” the author said.
“I have just turned 45, the age at which my mother, Anne, died of complications related to her MS.
“I know that she would rather have had her name on this clinic than on any statue, flower garden or commemorative plaque, so this donation is on her behalf, too, and in gratitude for everything she gave me in her far too short life.”
Unlike laboratory-based research centres, the new clinic will work with MS sufferers and help develop test new treatments that could eventually slow, stop and eventually reverse degenerative diseases.
It will be based in a purpose-built unit within the BioQuarter medical research campus, in south-east Edinburgh.
Staff will work closely with other university and NHS research units specialising in regenerative and neurological diseases.
Rowling’s £10m gift is being included in the university’s campaign to raise £350m towards research, increasing scholarships and bursaries and conserving its historic buildings.
Prof Sir Timothy O’Shea, the university’s principal, said: “This exceptionally generous donation will provide great help in the worldwide effort to improve treatments for multiple sclerosis.
“Work at the clinic will build on the already existing important research strengths in neuro-degenerative disorders at the university, which benefit very considerably from our close partnership with NHS Lothian.”
Rowling, whose personal wealth was estimated at £519m earlier this year thanks to the bestselling Harry Potter novels and films, has a long track record of charitable donations. She has also given £1m to the Labour party.
She had previously set up another trust – the Volant Trust, commemorating her mother’s maiden name – which has an annual budget of £5.1m to support women and young people at risk of social exclusion.