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American oilman donates US$2M to brain research


Calgary, AB A joint fundraising initiative of the University of Calgary and Calgary Health Region has honoured Texas oilman Boone Pickens for donating US$2 million to the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. His gift will establish the Boone Pickens Centre for Neurological Science and Advanced Technologies at the University of Calgary ‘s Health Research Innovation Centre, adjacent to the Foothills Medical Centre.

Mr Pickens was ranked as one of the top five philanthropists in the U.S. in 2005. “I wanted to give back to Canada,” he says. “I made a lot of money in Canada from 1959-79 and it is important for me to give back to the communities where I’ve been successful.”

His gift will provide for a dedicated floor of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, which will bring together top brain researchers to conduct research programs in such areas as “brain pacemakers,” neurosurgery robots, and brain-cell silicon chips that will impact neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

“We are grateful for the generosity and commitment to brain research Boone Pickens demonstrates with this significant gift,” said Dr Samuel Weiss, director, Hotchkiss Brain Institute and professor of Cell Biology at the University of Calgary. “This gift reinforces the importance of integrated medical research and excellence in care, and brings us a step closer to understanding, preventing and curing brain diseases and disorders.”

Local philanthropist Harley Hotchkiss and his family made the lead gift of $15 million to establish the Hotchkiss Brain Institute in 2004. He and Mr Pickens formed a lifelong friendship when the latter found himself in Calgary looking for oil patch opportunities in the 1950s.