Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Alumnus Donates $1.5M In Grants To Two Penn Schools

(previously published here at www.thebulletin.us)

University of Pennsylvania alumnus Arthur Bilger and his wife, Dahlia, made two monetary gifts this week to his alma mater to be used to support research into interactive media business models and therapeutic drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease.

The Wharton School received a $1 million gift to create and support the Wharton Interactive Media Initiative (WIMI), a research program focusing on interactive media, its effect on global business and its influence on traditional media business models. This data-driven research will hopefully be applied to helping media companies do profitable business.

Of his family's donation to Wharton, Mr. Bilger said "Through the WIMI, Wharton will continue its tradition of cutting-edge scholarship with practical applications... to the world of business."

The Bilger Foundation's $500,000 donation to the School of Medicine will establish the Nathan Bilger Alzheimer Drug Discovery Initiative in memory and honor of Mr. Bilger's father. The monetary gift will be used by the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR) to identify new methods and drug targets for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease that can hopefully be translated by their Marian S. Ware Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Center into new therapeutic drugs.

"The Bilger family gift will enable us to determine if an off-label drug used to treat organ rejection in transplant patients can be used to treat Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Virginia M.Y. Lee, CNDR director, said to the Almanac, a Penn-run publication.

Dr. John Q. Trojanowski, director of PennMed's Institute on Aging, explained that this is significant because early studies that are promising need a lot of money to evaluate them further as potential Alzheimer's therapies, and, "if successful, could put more drugs in the pipeline aimed at helping... patients by blocking... the disease process."

Mr. Bilger manages a private investment firm in California, is a member of Wharton's Board of Overseers, and along with his wife has supported the School of Arts and Sciences, Penn Medicine, and a scholarship for undergraduates.

Heather J. Chin can be reached at hchin@thebulletin.us

©The Evening Bulletin 2008

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