Gerald Chan - Information
Dr. Gerald (Lokchung) Chan is an extremely wealthy and prominent Chinese-American venture capitalist, businessman, philanthropist and scientific investor.
Growing up in Hong Kong, he moved to the United States in 1967, was educated at UCLA and Havard, and co-founded the venture capitalist group Morningside in 1986-1987 with his brother Ronnie. Through it and Hang Lung Group, a real estate company, he has become a billionaire and has property and investments all over the world. However, his biggest passion seems to be investment in scientific efforts at American Universities, and University/Business partnerships in health research. He has 2 children and has spoken many times on his belief in the importance of education and targeted research to cure diseases.
This profile will break down into two main sections: The first will be Dr. Chan's background, education, work history, and donations; the second his speeches and influence. A brief conclusion will follow.
Background, education, and work history
Dr. Chan was born in 1950 or 1951 and grew up in Hong Kong. He is from a wealthy family which ran the Hang Lung Group, a real estate company. He and his elder brother Ronnie were sent to the United States in 1967, where Dr. Chan eventually enrolled in UCLA and earned his bachelor's and master degrees in engineering. Dr. Chen went to Havard in 1973, originally intending to continue in physics, but was convinced to change to life sciences, in which he took a master's degree and then a doctorate in 1979. After, he did post-graduate work at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as a leukemia researcher. Originally considering becoming a professor in life sciences, after the death of his father in 1986, he returned to Hong Kong to co-found, with his elder brother, the Morningside Group (named after the district in Columbia, New York).
This venture capitalist group invests in a wide variety of technology projects, but Dr. Chan's passion appears to be investments in biotechnology and scientific research. Along with the Morningside Group, he helped his brother run the Hang Lung Group, which owns many properties in Hong Kong and mainland China. These efforts have led him to be a billionaire, and with his brother, become two of the richest men in Hong Kong as of 2016. In the last few years, Dr. Chan has been buying several properties in the Havard area in Boston. He also sits on the board or advises of many companies, most of them in the biotech industry.
Dr. Chan has is apparently a devout Christian and has two sons, named Ash and Evan. He famously donated $350 million to the Havard School of Public Health in 2014, which has been renamed the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, after his father, Tseng-Hsi. This donation, the largest of its kind at the time, is completely in line with issues Dr. Chan appears passionate about.
Speeches and influence
Several recent discussions by Dr. Chen have been attached as sources, including a Havard question and answer session at the School of Public Health, an address to the Academy of Arts of Sciences at Havard, a keynote speech at Yale Office of Cooperative Research, a commencement speech given at The Scripps Research Institute, and a speech to the Chinese-American Biopharmaceutical Society. There are also excerpts from a speech he gave at UCL in 2016.
A major common thread through all of these speeches is Dr. Chan's support for higher education and his focus is on supporting universities as long-term investments in humanity. He noted in his donation to Havard, "You are not giving to Harvard. You are giving to all of humanity through Harvard."
He voices concern about Asian countries 'catching up' in science, and believes that scientific leadership was one of the things that made America great in previous decades. He decries a lack of government funding for universities in the United States, particularly in science. This support, particularly for research in life sciences and epistemology, is consistent and strong.
Dr. Chan also has consistently nuanced views on public/private partnerships in terms of academic research. He is generally supportive of them, but sometimes cautions as to their complications. Particularly in his speech at Yale and to the Biopharmaceutical Society, he notes that sometimes private industries focus too much on the financial side of investment, while university research is often focused too much on publishing over practical considerations and generalizable success. He urges both the academics and investment research to work 'productively' with each other, and support each other as long-term partners.
Finally, he seems extremely proud of the extension of human life that medicine has created in the previous century, and also concerned by the socioeconomic conditions that have reversed these trends in some areas. Dr. Chan, in particular, seems to have a focus on cancer research and treatments and funds a great deal of research in the area. He seems guardedly optimistic in developments of science in this field, though concerned that some promising aspects of research are not being funded for financial reasons.
It is hard to objectively measure the impact of his work within the science community, but as one of the largest donors in the world to universities and to life science research, and given the fact he is regularly invited to give keynote speeches at the high levels of research-based universities in the United States, it is difficult to see how Dr. Chan could not be considered one of the most influential figures in philanthropy to health research.
Dr. Chan is an important figure in the life and health science community, bringing together the academic and business sides of the field, and contributing a large amount of financial resources to disease prevention and treatment research. Having gone through a decade and a half in academic research and almost 40 years in biotechnology investments, he is regularly invited to speak at prestige events on the subject. He is also deeply committed to funding higher education in the United States, and especially at Havard University, where he has given a great deal of money and bought property nearby. Despite all this, he is known to not seek publicity and tries to keep his support quiet. Still, within this community, he seems well respected and appreciated.