Patrick Soon-Shiong Has Been Giving Big to Hospitals. But Is That Going to Change?

Self-made billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, 62,  just keeps finding new ways to add to his fortune. The guy can’t keep still. He was on UCLA’s medical faculty by 30, and shortly thereafter performed the world’s first-ever successful pancreatic transplant. He built a generic drug company, and went on to create Abraxane, one of the most successful anti-cancer drugs on the market. Then he sold both the generics company and the company he’d built around Abraxane, which made him the richest man in Los Angeles.

Now, he’s founded NantHealth, a medical technology company seeking to solve what’s called the “interoperability crisis,” or the hurdles posed when multiple specialists—or in some cases multiple hospitals—go to work on the same patient. They’ve built a groundbreaking, cloud-based, bi-directional operating system that’s completely agnostic—meaning that it gets along with multiple other record management and operating systems, and can be used nearly anywhere. There are 12,000 miles of fiber-optic cables hooking Soon-Shiong’s baby up to the modern world, to boot.

Given this lifelong devotion and aptitude for medical technology, you might expect Soon-Shiong—a signatory of the Giving Pledge—to be investing heavily in fellow medical pioneers. But oddly, Soon-Shiong’s giving has, up until now, been focused around specific hospitals and health centers. The family foundation awarded $4 million to UC Global Health in 2007, and followed that up with $135 million to Saint John's Health Center to build a biotech research center and sports medicine clinic and $100,000 million to help reopen the Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital. Perhaps he just doesn’t want to fund his own competition. But as he ages, we predict that Soon-Shiong will find himself getting involved in medical technology grantmaking, of the sort that the Helmsley Charitable Trust undertakes. Though Soon-Shiong’s level of brilliance—and ambition—is uncommon, we’re betting that at some point he’s going to want to support the next generation of innovators.