Why Daniel Loeb Gave $15 Million towards Alzheimer's Research

I've written about billionaire Daniel Loeb's health philanthropy before. In recent years, through their Third Point Foundation, Loeb and his wife Margaret have had a couple of key interests in health, including reproductive health, where sums have gone to Planned Parenthood, the Mt. Sinai Department of OB/GYN, and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The Loebs are yet another billionaire couple deep into yoga, and Loeb himself has traveled to India in the past to study under a guru. Margaret, meanwhile, is a former yoga instructor. This has likely fueled the couple's interest in fitness and wellness, where the Mt. Sinai Continuum Center for Health and Healing, has been receiving modest sums of late. 

You might notice Mt. Sinai coming up a lot with the Loebs, and that's probably because Loeb has served on the board of trustees at Mt. Sinai Hospital for the last couple of years. What's more, all of Loeb's children were born at the New York hospital. But despite this strong connection, Mt. Sinai had yet to receive huge sums from the Loebs.

Well, at the end of 2014, Loeb and Margaret gave $15 million to Mt. Sinai Hospital to establish the Ronald M. Loeb Center for Alzheimer’s Disease.

As you might have guessed, this gift was motivated by the loss of a loved one, as is often the case in health philanthropy. In this case,  it's Loeb's father, Ronald, who died at 79 from Alzheimer's disease after suffering for eight years. Loeb saw the effects of the disease firsthand: "We saw immediately, from the diagnosis on, his life was effectively over. He was like a dead man walking."

Loeb has also said he's been impressed by the innovative work being done in the field of Alzheimers research at Mt. Sinai. The Ronald M. Loeb Center will continue this innovative work and focus not just on the genes that increase one's risk of getting the disease, but also, on protective genes that provide disease resistance. The Ronald M. Loeb Center will also bring together a network of researchers and clinicians from the entire Mount Sinai Health System.

It's unclear whether this represents a new area of interest for the Loebs. Loeb has called it a "well-placed bet." In 2013, Loeb also gave at least $100,000 to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research, an outfit which was modestly funded in years past. Given the personal elements involved, it's possible that Alzheimers and other neurodegenerative diseases will become a priority in the Loeb's health philanthropy.

Related: Loeb Family Third Point Foundation Grants for Health