Michigan Association of Health Plans

Couple’s $10 million gift to University of Michigan aims to improve world health

A couple’s $10 million gift to the University of Michigan will aim to empower faculty and students to seek new ways to address health needs of the disadvantaged.

The gift from Tadataka and Leslie Yamada will allow UM to work with global partners to make a greater positive impact on the health and health care of people with the greatest need worldwide through the creation of the UM Center for Global Health Equity.

According to UM, the center will accelerate work by faculty, staff and students from across UM’s three campuses to address inequities in health in the poorest nations, and in disadvantaged populations in middle-income countries.

Collaboration across campuses may include efforts to strengthen health systems in low-income countries, and initiatives aimed at addressing social determinants of health such as food security, according to UM. The center also may provide technical solutions, such as tests of telehealth tools to deliver advanced care to low-income countries remotely.

“A great challenge of our time is that millions, mostly children in the poorest countries, die each year unnecessarily from illnesses that can be prevented or treated,” The Yamadas wrote. “The University of Michigan’s outstanding faculty across a broad array of disciplines and culture of working together make it uniquely able to address the challenge. We hope that our gift will help to catalyze action that will make a meaningful contribution toward correcting this unacceptable inequity.”

The Yamadas first became part of the UM community in 1983, when Tadataka Yamada arrived as the new chief of gastroenterology at UM’s Medical School. In 1990, he rose to chair of the Department of Internal Medicine.

Since leaving UM in 1996, he has worked in both the pharmaceutical industry, including as the chairman of research for GlaxoSmithKline and chief medical and scientific officer at Takeda Pharmaceuticals. He also spent five years leading the global health program for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is now a venture partner with Frazier Healthcare Partners in Seattle. Leslie Yamada has a long record of work and volunteerism in social services and the arts.

This article appeared in MLive. Read more here.