Our Purpose and the Company We Keep

Years ago, I had the good fortune of getting to know the Nobel Prize winner professor Albert Sabin, whose oral polio vaccine saved tens of millions of children globally. He was a soft-spoken, lovely and humble man. While all the global pharma giants are chasing potential solutions to COVID-19, we should remember that professor Sabin refused to patent his vaccine, waiving all commercial potential by pharmaceutical industries so the low price would guarantee a more extensive use of the treatment.

From the development of his life-saving vaccine, professor Sabin did not gain a penny and continued to live out his years on his regular and modest salary as a professor. He was a humble giant among his peers.

As the world’s attention is focused on the pandemic, a multitude of questions arise while science, medicine, artificial intelligence, academia, and research are all looking for answers on how to get the coronavirus under control globally.

As Lifestyles recently entered our 49th year of serving the cause of high philanthropy, we are happy in the knowledge that we are looked upon as the trusted meeting place for the private sector’s leading philanthropists and scientific minds. Our publication and networking platforms have also become a respected exchange of ideas, especially in challenging times like these.

In the current edition of our magazine, we give our loyal readership an opportunity to gain an intimate look into the mindset of those leading philanthropists and global experts who are at the forefront of research and social efforts, unprecedented in history.

Our cover profile on Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has been in the making for many years, ever since I had the opportunity to get to meet him in person. His recent $1 billion commitment to address the health and social issues facing our world came at a time when governments alone are not able to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Our good friend, Canadian-born, American mega-philanthropist and social entrepreneur Jeff Skoll (who is a member of the board of our Lifestyles Magazine/Meaningful Influence) was one of the first to raise the alarm of a forthcoming pandemic when he made his film Contagion a decade before the coronavirus reared its head.

As the current health crisis unfolded, Jeff made an additional $100 million commitment towards finding answers to the unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus, bringing his personal philanthropic commitment to $500 million, with more to follow next year.

Here is a brief look at just some of the inspiring personal initiatives we have been witnessing among our friends and supporters in recent weeks:

Bill Gates, who has been warning of a pending pandemic for years and whose guest editorial appeared in our previous issue, just upped his virus-related philanthropic commitment to over $300 million for vaccine development and treatment, with more to come.

Our Lifestyles cover interviewee Richard Branson, who more recently appeared on our NextGen cover with his daughter Holly, donated $250 million toward the well being of his Virgin Group employees.

George Soros, whose children are part of our NextGen network, committed $150 million for finding solutions to the challenge, particularly in relief for most vulnerable populations, low-income workers, and other causes.

Johann Rupert, the low-profile philanthropist whose companies have been sponsoring our publication for well over three decades and whose children are part of our NextGen network, in partnership with Nicky Oppenheimer, contributed nearly $114.2 million for general relief efforts.

Michael Dell, who with his wife Susan, was one of our most popular cover subjects and whose family members are also part of our NextGen network, committed $100 million for vaccine research and general aid.

Canadian philanthropists, and our longtime supporters and readers, Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman’s $100 million commitment to finding new ways of using artificial intelligence is a very significant development towards making our world a better place.

A member of our Lifestyles Magazine’s board, Ronald Lauder and his brother Leonard, together with their family, donated over $95 million to support the COVID-19 response in developing countries and provide frontline workers with personal protective equipment.

Our previous cover subject Michael Bloomberg, whose NextGen daughter Georgina was also on our recent Lifestyles Magazine/Meaningful Influence NextGen cover, committed $75 million to help contain the virus and control the infection rate, and to provide meals for healthcare workers.

First- and second-generation mega-philanthropists Lynn and Stacy Schusterman committed to contributing over $70 million toward COVID-19 related causes.

LVMH and Bernard Arnault, who graced the cover of our Lifestyles Magazine in an exclusive interview, ordered 40 million face masks to help France deal with a shortage of essential medical supplies in addition to helping in several other ways.

A person frequently featured on our pages, Phil Knight, just donated $10 million for general aid.

Another NextGen member of Lifestyles Magazine/Meaningful Influence’s board, Adam Rockefeller Growald, through his board seat with the Rockefeller Foundation, helped contribute $20 million in COVID-19 related efforts as well as through his board membership of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund helped allocate an additional $12 million of that fund’s annual $16.9 million to help with the fight against the virus.

Philanthropists Leon Black and his wife Debra, who was a recent cover story in Lifestyles Magazine/Meaningful Influence, contributed $20 million.

Ralph Lauren, one of our most popular cover subjects, donated $10 million for general efforts and personal protective equipment.

My personal friend, the immensely private philanthropist Naguib Sawiris, contributed $6.5 million in economic relief aid to his community.

As one of our previous issues was being prepared, a distinguished group of scientists and billionaires—many of them closely connected to us—have joined forces to form a contemporary “Manhattan Project” designed to help the White House battle the coronavirus outbreak.

Calling themselves “Scientists to Stop COVID-19,” the collection of top researchers, billionaires and industry captains will act as an “ad hoc review board” for the torrent of Coronavirus research, “weeding out” flawed data before it reaches policymakers.

One of the key initiators of this unprecedented effort is multi-billionaire philanthropist Michael Milken, who was on our recent cover. We are proud partners in his Milken Institute Global Conference, an internationally recognized forum for eminent individuals, leaders, and organizations driven by a collective commitment to divergent thinking and sustainable solutions to some of the world’s greatest needs. Bringing to the stage the best and most creative leadership, the conference includes insights that touch every sector, from developing markets to accelerating medical research.

We are very fortunate to have direct access to the greatest minds on any topic.

Our issues are proud to feature guest editorials by prominent individuals, such as dean Michelle Williams of Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dean Williams is a professor in Public Health and International Development, a joint faculty appointment at the Harvard Chan School and Harvard Kennedy School. She is an internationally renowned epidemiologist and public health scientist, an award-winning educator, and a widely recognized academic leader.

In 1994, Dean Williams developed, and is currently directing, the NIH-funded multidisciplinary international research training (MIRT) program that allows for the development and operations of undergraduate and graduate student training in global health, biostatistics, and epidemiology in over 14 foreign research sites in South America, South East Asia, Africa, and Europe. She is a member of several professional and scholarly associations, including the National Academy of Medicine, the Society for Epidemiologic Research, and the American Epidemiological Society.

The other Guest Editorial in our previous issue was penned for us exclusively by Mark Steven Smolinski, MD, MPH, and the president of Ending Pandemics. Mark brings over 25 years of experience in applying innovative solutions to improve disease prevention, response, and control across the globe. Since 2009, he has served as the Chief Medical Officer and Director of Global Health at the Skoll Global Threats Fund (SGTF), where he developed the Ending Pandemics in Our Lifetime Initiative in 2012. His work at SGTF created a solid foundation for the work of Ending Pandemics, which branched out as an independent entity in 2018.

Prior to SGTF, Mark developed the Predict and Prevent Initiative at Google.org, as part of the starting team at Google’s philanthropic arm. Working with a team of engineers, Google Flu Trends (a project that had tremendous impact on the use of big data for disease surveillance) was created in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Mark has served as Vice President for Biological Programs at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a public charity directed by CNN founder Ted Turner and former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. Before NTI, he led an 18-member expert committee of the National Academy of Medicine on the 2003 landmark report Microbial Threats to Health: Emergence, Detection, and Response. Mark served as the sixth Luther Terry Fellow in Washington, DC, in the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and as an Epidemic Intelligence Officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mark was on the investigation team that discovered Hantavirus, a newly identified pathogen, in 1993. His passion for helping all peoples save lives and improve livelihoods motivates partners on five continents.

To sum up, we are very proud to be an important and respected part of these historical efforts aimed at the continuous betterment of the world.

As we soon approach our 50th year of serving the cause of philanthropy, we are happy in the knowledge that having served three generations of the world’s leading charitable families we have been able to and proudly and effectively continue to be of service.

During 2019 our readers have contributed the total of $25.5 billion in individual philanthropic gifts.

In our previous issues, we featured new individual financial gifts relating to addressing COVID-19 issues to the tune of over $3.6 billion.

Having such an important purpose is a mission that we take very seriously.

Thank you for your continuing support!

Gabriel A. Erem

Founder, Lifestyles Magazine/Meaningful Influence