Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has given $300 million to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to celebrate the institution's 100th birthday.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the gift is one of the largest donations to academic research institutions in recent years. It brings Bloomberg's lifetime donations to Johns Hopkins up to $1.5 billion, which some believe is the largest amount given by a single benefactor to one academic institution.
The latest gift will be used to create the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, which will focus on five public health issues: adolescent health, environmental threats, gun violence, obesity, and substance misuse.
Michael Klag, dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, said, "These are areas we are already working in, but this gift is going to allow us to ramp up to warp speed."
One-third of the donation will fund 50 annual scholarships for fellows pursuing masters of public health degrees. In return for tuition and a stipend, the fellows will return to their communities to work on local public health projects for at least one year.
A further $125 million of the donation will support 25 new faculty members who will conduct research in the initiative's five focus areas, and the remaining $75 million will support scholarships for the university's new doctor of public health program.
Improving life expectancy
The overall goal of the initiative is to improve the United States' world ranking for life expectancy, the Journal reports.
The World Health Organization currently ranks the United States 31st overall in life expectancy. Americans trail behind residents of most western European countries, living an average of 79.3 years. In addition, life expectancy among white U.S. residents fell for the first time in a decade in 2014, due in part to an increase in substance misuse.
Ronald Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University, said, "The focus of the gift is on America and dealing with the core issues that have deleteriously affected American public health over the last decade."
Bloomberg said, "We can make the same strides in the 21st century against health threats like air pollution, gun violence, and obesity that we did in the 20th century against polio and other infectious diseases." He added, "There's no institution better equipped to lead the charge than Johns Hopkins, and it's an honor to be able to help launch the school's next 100 years with this gift" (McDaniels/Cohn, Baltimore Sun, 9/15; Winslow, Wall Street Journal, 9/15).
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