It's Personal: Why This Energy Mogul Is Giving for Neurogenerative Disorders

This week, Western University in London, Ontario, announced a $5 million gift from Jim and Louise Temerty and the Temerty Family Foundation. The money is going specifically toward prevention, detection, and treatment of neurodegenerative disorders like ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease, and like a lot of big gifts from family foundations, there’s a personal connection

But first, let’s talk about the details of the gift. It’s an interesting one: The $5 million grant is going to be used for a five-year-long collaborative study to be conducted at the university’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. It’ll be led by the dean, Michael J. Strong, and bring in folks from the Ontario Brain Institute.

Basically, it will turn Western University into a hub for neurodegenerative disease research. With this support from the Ontario Brain Institute, a rotating cast of clinicians, scientists, and researchers will travel to the university to work together to find cures.

This is a big deal: As Canada’s population ages, and answers for those suffering from this class of diseases continue to be scarce, there’s a real need for the sort of ground-up, collaborative work the Temertys are supporting. The ultimate goal is to look closely at the onset symptoms of these disorders, and determine if and how they overlap.

Jim Temerty's interest is, of course, the genesis of this gift. He’s the founder and board chair of Northland Power, Inc., and he and his family’s foundation have been giving big to many health and research-based charities across Canada for a long time. In 2012, he gave $7.4 million to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. In 2013, he gave over $3 million to the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Foundation. He’s also given generously to a variety of Ukrainian programs and initiatives, because he was born in Ukraine during World War II and spent the first nine years of his life living as a refugee.

It's no secret that much healthcare philanthropy is highly personal, as we note here often, and Temerty's ALS gift is a great case study.  

Temerty’s mother had ALS, so naturally, he’s here putting his philanthropic muscle behind a promising new initiative to tackle neurodegenerative disorders. We wonder if he’s been waiting for the right time, knowing the devastation ALS can cause firsthand but not seeing any organizations setting up to take it on. If that was the case, we’re glad he found a good bet to put his money behind.