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J.K. Rowling’s Latest Gift: $18.8M to MS Research

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.

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J.K. Rowling Profile

J.K. Rowling
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J.K. Rowling’s story is one filled with strife and struggle and ending with stunning success. She’s someone we look to for inspiration when it comes to overcoming hardships and proving that hard work really does pay off. She is best known for authoring the renowned Harry Potter series, which propelled her from poverty into fame and fortune. But that’s not why we’re profiling her.

You see, J.K. Rowling gained billionaire status from the Harry Potter franchise’s success. As of 2011, she was estimated to be worth about $1 billion, enough to put her on the Forbes list of richest people in the world. But last year she lost that status—and not because of mismanagement.

J.K. Rowling is no longer a billionaire—because she donated so much money to charity. In 2011, she gave away about 16% of her net worth, or $160 million dollars. Perhaps it’s the fact that Rowling knows exactly what it’s like to be poverty stricken—she lived off of welfare at one point—that makes her more likely to give her wealth away.

When she spoke at Harvard’s commencement in 2008, she addressed poverty, saying that it “is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. It means a thousand petty humiliations and hardship.”