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Donation to study compassion
By Jerry Brownstein
Banking billionaire Denny Sanford (US) has donated €100 million to the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) for the scientific study of empathy and compassion. This gift was inspired by a private meeting that Sanford had with the Dalai Lama. “I have great respect for the work and teachings of the Dalai Lama, whose interest in the intersection of science and faith is deep and profound,” Sanford said in a statement. “I have had the opportunity to see how grace, humanity and kindness can change people and the world. This gift extends that vision.” Mr Sanford’s net worth is over €2.5 billion, and he aims to give it all away before his death.
The research funded by this donation will focus on how to cultivate empathy and compassion in medical professionals. Professor William Mobley, associate dean of neuroscience at UCSD, summed it up this way: “People talk about compassion, but almost no one has ever studied how it exists in the brain. We want to find the scientific data that validates the immense power of compassion. Once we identify and understand its biological underpinnings, we can use that knowledge to teach empathy to new doctors, and most importantly, to improve healthcare for everyone.