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Laeticia Winery Owner Donates $5 Million for Alzheimer's Research

Selim Zilkha and Mary Hayley made the donation to the USC Keck School of Medicine to establish a chair in Alzheimer's disease research.

Two USC boosters have given $5 million to establish a chair in Alzheimer's disease research.
Two USC boosters have given $5 million to establish a chair in Alzheimer's disease research.

Two USC boosters donated $5 million to the Keck School of Medicine Tuesday to establish a chair in Alzheimer's disease research.

The gift from Los Angeles residents Selim Zilkha, a member of the medical school's Board of Overseers, and Mary Hayley was announced by Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito, dean of the school.

The latest gift brings Zilkha's total giving to neuroscience research at the Keck School to more than $30 million.

"We are deeply grateful to Selim and Mary for their vision and support," Puliafito said. "Through their extraordinary philanthropy and outstanding leadership, they are helping to support prolific and groundbreaking research in degenerative neurological diseases."

Zilkha said his mother and eldest brother had Alzheimer's disease, and his oldest sister suffered from dementia.    

"These are terrible diseases," he said. "If we don't do something about it, by 2050 the number of people in the U.S. with Alzheimer's or dementia may nearly triple from 5 million to a projected 13.8 million."

Zilkha, a Baghdad-born businessman in his 80s, donated $20 million to establish the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at USC in 2002. In 2011, he gave $5 million to help recruit senior scientists and investigators to the institute.

Zilkha is the co-owner of Zilkha Biomass Energy and Laetitia Vineyard & Winery in San Luis Obispo County.

- City News Service

To learn more about Salem Zilkha and Mary Hayley, read this Huffington Post blog.

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