For Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne, $100 million seems to be the magic number. That's how much they gave in 2010 to found the Benioff UCSF Children's Hospital; that's how much they gave earlier this month to expand to a second campus in Oakland. Now they are partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on a $100 million initiative to combat premature births.
Lynne Benioff in particular has long been known as a health care crusader, especially for children. And with their recent commitment to make UCSF Benioff one of the top five institutions of its kind nationally, it was a good fit for the Gates Foundation, which has donated tens of millions to hospitals around the globe over the past several years in an effort to protect the health of mothers and reduce infant mortality from premature births.
This new 10-year initiative will be conducted through UCSF Benioff, and will include everything from examining the social issues that prevent some families and communities from following good birth practices to investing in medical research.
"We are thrilled to be partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is as interested in addressing the global issue of preterm birth as we are," said the Benioffs. "The incredible doctors and scientists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals will bring their expertise to help save mothers and children around the globe."
“The time has come to address the issue of premature birth on a global scale,” said Sam Hawgood, MBBS, interim chancellor of UCSF, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and a neonatologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco. “The vision of the Benioffs and the Gates Foundation creates a partnership that can have a dramatic and sustainable impact on this major cause of mortality and morbidity to babies worldwide. We are delighted that they have chosen UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals as the platform to execute this idea.”
Premature births affect more than 15 million babies and their families every year, and is responsible for approximately 1 million deaths, a number which the Benioffs and the Gateses hope to reduce dramatically.