Virginia & D.K. Ludwig Fund for Cancer Research
Daniel K. Ludwig was, in the 1960s and 1970s, among the richest men in the world, with a self-made empire of some 200 companies spread around the world. He left substantially all of his fortune to cancer research, believing that cancer represented one of the great challenges of humanity.
Born in South Haven, Michigan, on June 24, 1897, Mr. Ludwig invented the modern super-tanker and pioneered the development of a great supertanker fleet. However his business interests were wide. He participated in major oil and gas projects throughout the world, become a major investor and operator in the production of coal and other minerals, acquired and developed luxury hotels and real estate properties, and developed a forest-products and agricultural enterprise that encompassed three million acres in the Amazon basin.
In 1971, Ludwig launched the global Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (he had to be persuaded strongly to allow his name to be used), endowing it with substantially all of his international holdings. LICR is thought to be the largest international cancer research institute with nine Branches and an affiliated network of research and clinical laboratories - over 40 sites of activity in 15 countries. Since its inception, the Ludwig Institute has expended over $1.1 billion of its own funds in support of cancer research, and it has an endowment today worth $1.2 billion.
Mr. Ludwig died on August 27, 1992, and his estate endowed the 'Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Fund for Cancer Research.' The purpose of the Fund is - as Mr. Ludwig directed - to provide cancer research support at six leading US academic institutions in the USA: University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute), Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Stanford University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since 1992, the Fund has expended some $53 million for professorial chairs at the six beneficiary institutions.
In 2006, the Trustees of the Virginia & D.K. Ludwig Fund for Cancer Research distributed $120 million - the largest, single gift by a foundation for cancer research in the USA - to create a Ludwig Center at each beneficiary institution. It is the Trustees hope that the Ludwig Centers and the Ludwig Institute will together form a powerful force in advancing our understanding and the control of cancer. Mr. Ludwig's full statement on the establishment of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (below) gives voice to the vision that has guided the establishment of the 'Ludwig Cancer' network.
In creating this organization I have been guided by certain principles which throughout my life I have found to be highly effective. Success in any complex enterprise consists in bringing the best minds to bear on each problem, in providing the best resources possible, and in putting each concept into practice whenever and wherever the opportunities are most favorable. I believe firmly in the value of applying these principles in grappling with tasks as momentous as finding ways to relieve the human suffering caused by cancer.
Why should this undertaking be international? The rare vision and ability needed in the battle against cancer are not limited by frontiers, and the scientists who possess these gifts must be sought wherever they are to be found. Nor does cancer reveal itself in the same guise in every nation, but strikes different populations in different forms. Yet despite the growing necessity for concerted worldwide effort, I find no agency, which has both the truly international scope and the substantial resources, which I deem essential for a comprehensive attack on human cancer.
In my judgment the ultimate conquest of this frightful disease is not yet in sight, and the same view is held by most informed physicians and scientists in bio-medical research. In contrast to those who would yield to undue optimism, and who hope for too much from present programs. I am persuaded that eventual mastery of cancer will come only from intense and unremitting scientific exploration over many decades. This should not be hindered by the changing policies of governments and the vagaries of public interest. Accordingly it is my intention that the Institute shall be so structured as to ensure secure and continuing support for the attainment of its aims. The elimination of cancer will surely rank as one of man's greatest and uncontroversial achievements. That day may be long delayed. How long we cannot tell. But I do not doubt that it will surely come.
D. K. Ludwig
December 17, 1974