March 24, 2023
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Westlake Village founder’s trust gives $540M to cancer research


Ludwig Cancer Research, started by Westlake Village founding developer Daniel K. Ludwig, has donated $540 million to six U.S. Ludwig Centers on behalf of the late philanthropist’s trust, the organization announced Jan. 6.

The funding adds to the endowments established in 2006 to create the Ludwig Centers at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Stanford University and the University of Chicago. The gift brings Ludwig’s total funding at these institutions to $900 million and his global contribution to advancing cancer research to $2.5 billion.

“Never before has the cancer community had the knowledge and tools to probe so deeply into understanding cancer and discovering new ways to defeat it,” Ed McDermott, president and CEO of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, said in a statement. “More must be done in terms of funding to ensure continued progress in an era of shrinking global resources for research. Providing reliable, long-term support to scientists fosters high impact, innovative research, and must remain a priority for the cancer community.”

Initial funding to the six U.S.-based Ludwig Centers has yielded groundbreaking discoveries, the organization said. Funds have paved the way for the first comprehensive maps of the genomic landscapes of cancers, led to transformative “smart drugs” and immunotherapy treatments, and fast-tracked research to bring new treatments for certain metastatic and rare cancers.

“The additional funding received today will allow the Ludwig Centers to expand and amplify their efforts in perpetuity. Sustained support enables the centers to continue training the best and the brightest of the next generation of scientists,” Dr. Bert Vogelstein, co-director of the Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins, said in a statement.

The new funding was realized by the sale of New York real estate investments held by Ludwig. His first contribution to cancer research was made in 1971, when he established the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research — a nonprofit that supports more than 600 cancer researchers at dedicated labs worldwide. Ludwig Cancer Research comprises the Ludwig Institute, the six U.S.-based Ludwig Centers and select affiliated scientists across the globe.

Ludwig, who made his home on the East Coast, was a shipping magnate whose business empire expanded into cattle ranching, banking, real estate development, oil and mining. In the late 1960s, the billionaire began developing the upscale suburban community of Westlake Village at the Ventura-L.A. County line. He died in 1992 at age 95.