by Winston Chua
The Alzheimer’s Association recently honored philanthropists and USC Keck School of Medicine benefactors Selim Zilkha and Mary Hayley with the Jerome H. Stone Philanthropy Award for Alzheimer’s Research.
“Because Selim and Mary are deeply devoted to the future of research, they are helping to ensure than one day Alzheimer’s will be a disease of the past,” said USC President Max Nikias in a video tribute to the couple. “And for that, all of us are eternally grateful for their extraordinary generosity.”
The disease hits close to home for the husband and wife couple. Zilkha’s mother and oldest brother both had Alzheimer’s disease; his older sister had dementia. Earlier this year doctors diagnosed Hayley’s brother with Alzheimer’s.
The pair has contributed more than $30-million to the Keck School of Medicine to advance global Alzhemier’s research.
“The philanthropic support of Mary Hayley and Selim Zilkha provided the foundation for breakthrough neuroscience research at the Keck School of Medicine,” added Keck School Dean Dr. Carmen Puliafito.
Zilkha said that recognizing who will eventually help find the cure is less important than finding the cure itself.
“We’ve got to collaborate,” Zilkha said. “It does not matter to the Zilkha Neurogenetic Insitute if we are the ones to discover a cure for this terrible disease, or if it is someone else. But we must make this research available to everybody.”
The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research, whose mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, provide care and support for those affected and reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.