In 1990, J.K. Rowling‘s mother, Anne Rowling, passed away at the age of 45 after a decade-long struggle with multiple sclerosis (MS). In MS, the immune system attacks the myelin, the protective sheath on each neuron, causing them to break down and become unable to relay information. It has a wide array of symptoms, including neurological pain, paralysis, and loss of vision. In 1990, the medical community didn’t know this. To this day, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis.
In 2010, when J.K. Rowling was 45 years old, she donated £10 million ($12.5m) to the University of Edinburgh to found an MS clinic. The Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic opened there in January 2013, with a mission of furthering research and treatment by connecting clinical trials to patients.
Since the clinic’s founding, many advances in MS research have been made. In 2017, the FDA in the US approved ocrelizumab, the first drug to treat primary-progressive MS and shown to dramatically slow the progress of the disease. And while it’s not a cure, it’s still a huge breakthrough.
On Thursday, September 12, J.K. Rowling made another donation to her mother’s memorial clinic and the University of Edinburgh. This time, she donated £15.3 million ($18.8m).
“When the Anne Rowling Clinic was first founded, none of us could have predicted the incredible progress that would be made in the field of Regenerative Neurology, with the Clinic leading the charge,” said Rowling. “I am delighted to now support the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic into a new phase of discovery and achievement, as it realizes its ambition to create a legacy of better outcomes for generations of people with MS and non-MS neurodegenerative diseases.”
“This inspiring donation will fund a whole new generation of researchers who are focused on discovering and delivering better treatments and therapies for patients,” said Professor Peter Mathieson, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Edinburgh.