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$10 million new gift from Ken Griffin to fund research into esophageal diseases
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$10 million new gift from Ken Griffin to fund research into esophageal diseases

Ken Griffin is making his biggest donation to a Chicago institution since handing out $130 million just as he left the city for Miami two years ago.

The billionaire hedge fund founder announced a $10 million gift to Northwestern Medicine to fund research into esophageal diseases, which include esophageal cancer and gastroesophageal reflux. The donation will enable studies into leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to expand one of the top programs in the field globally.

“Through cutting-edge research, advanced therapies and compassionate patient care, Northwestern Medicine makes a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals affected by esophageal conditions,” Griffin said in a statement on Wednesday.

The donation will “enable medical discoveries that will benefit millions of patients worldwide,” Howard Chrisman, chief executive officer of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, said in a statement.

The center serves more than 5,000 patients a year, performing over 2,500 endoscopic procedures and 4,000 diagnostic procedures.

“Forecasting suggests that the incidence of esophageal cancer in patients 40-65 years old will nearly double over the next 15 years and the incidence of benign esophageal diseases has increased significantly,” said John Pandolfino, chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at the hospital. “Our center trains the next generation of physicians and scientists, so patients have better access to the care they need.”

Griffin announced he was moving his Citadel financial conglomerate from Chicago to Miami in June 2022. That same month, he gave more than $130 million to 40 Chicago organizations, including Northwestern Medicine, the University of Chicago and the Field Museum.

His exit was a blow to the city and its suburbs, which have in recent years grappled with the departures of Boeing Co., Caterpillar Inc. and the local offices of Tyson Foods Inc. The move also fueled concerns about the future of his philanthropic donations. Griffin alone has given more than $650 million to Illinois institutions.

With the gift, the Center for Esophageal Disease will be renamed the Kenneth C. Griffin Esophageal Center.

The donation to Northwestern Medicine comes a little over a month after Griffin got his name on one of Chicago’s biggest tourist attractions. The Museum of Science and Industry became the Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry in May following a 2019 donation of $125 million, the museum’s biggest ever.

Griffin has been focused on his charitable contributions in Miami, where some of his main contributions include $50 million for neurological care and another $50 million for a cancer research center. But he will “continue to identify and support world-class researchers and organizations in other locations consistent with his philanthropic priorities,” a spokeswoman said in emailed response to questions.

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