VANCOUVER, March 14 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese businessman and philanthropist has made the largest-ever individual donation to the University of British Columbia (UBC)'s faculty of medicine in Canada.
UBC alumnus Edwin S.H. Leong, a hotel and commercial property developer in Hong Kong, China, has donated 24 million Canadian dollars (some 18.5 million U.S. dollars) to expand research aimed at helping people live longer and healthier.
"My wish is for everybody to live long and die peacefully, and I believe healthy aging is the key to that," Leong said last week in a statement released by UBC.
"This is an investment in people, and I have great confidence that by bringing together and supporting the brightest people in this field, UBC will be able to show us the way," he said.
The donation is from Leong's Tai Hung Fai Charitable Foundation in Hong Kong.
Leong, 66, earned his bachelor of science degree from UBC in 1973 before launching a property development company, Tai Hung Fai Group, in Hong Kong in 1977.
The group has been engaging in different charitable initiatives since 2005, and The Tai Hung Fai Charitable Foundation was set up in 2013.
The gift to UBC will be used to set up the Edwin S.H. Leong Healthy Aging Program, said Dr. Dermot Kelleher, UBC's dean of the faculty of medicine.
He told Xinhua Wednesday that the money will help UBC recruit faculty, researchers and support staff for the program.
This gift also will boost healthy aging research through collaboration with scientists and clinicians at UBC and globally.
"It's an extraordinary gift," Kelleher said in an interview. "Our faculty's strategic plan focuses on the life course and aging as one of our key themes. And the concept of healthy aging is very dear to our hearts."
He said Leong's donation demonstrates the developer's "deep humanity" and "deep feelings" for people who are reaching their elder years and who are finding it difficult to cope.
Kelleher said this is the largest individual donation ever given to the faculty of medicine.
"It's an extraordinary gift. It reflects the humanity and personality of Dr. Leong and his real interest in making a better world for everyone," Kelleher said.
In a statement, UBC President Santa J. Ono said he is inspired by Leong's vision for a world in which people can age healthier and with greater mental and physical agility.
"Edwin's friendship and transformative donation to UBC are highly valued and the university is honored to partner with him and his foundation to build a successful program that addresses this critical societal need," said Ono.