Best-selling author J.K. Rowling recently donated 10 million pounds ($15.5 million) to Scotland’s University of Edinburgh to go toward a new clinic for multiple sclerosis (MS) research and treatment. The donation is the largest the university has ever received. The clinic, to be named after the author’s mother, will be based at the university.
In addition to MS research, the center will also research treatments for diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Alzheimer’s. About 100,000 people live with MS in Britain, with Scotland having one of the world’s highest MS rates in the world. The donation was Rowling’s way of giving back to her hometown and the place where she started writing stories about an orphaned wizard–stories that would become the best-selling Harry Potter novels and spawn a multi-million dollar hit movie franchise.
The Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic–named in honor of the author’s mother–will be added to the new Centre for Multiple Sclerosis Research at the University of Edinburgh. Rowling said that there was nothing more important than helping the university attract the best medical experts in the field of neuro-regeneration research. Rowling hopes the clinic will one day be a global center for excellence in the field of regenerative neurology and that it develops a cure for MS and other neurological diseases.
Turning 45 inspired Rowling to make this generous donation, because it is the same age that her mother died in 1990 from MS-related complications, before Rowling found fame with her Harry Potter novels. Her mother’s death influenced a central theme of the story–children dealing with loss. Rowling said the donation was given as a token of gratitude for all that her mother gave her during a life that was too short, and because she would have preferred her name to be on a clinic, whose purpose is to find a cure for debilitating neurological diseases, rather than on a plaque, statue, or flower garden.
The Harry Potter novels have sold over 400 million copies and made Rowling a billionaire. Forbes Magazine recently ranked the author as one of the richest woman in Britain. Recently, the author was honored with the Benefactor Award presented by Princess Anne at the University of Edinburgh for her generous donation.
For more on the author’s inspiration, here is an interview clip of J.K. Rowling speaking about the loss of her mother to multiple sclerosis: