The 2016 Pontifical Key Philanthropy Award has been awarded to Sean Parker, an extraordinary individual whose generosity, vision and philanthropy embodies humanitarianism. Sean Parker continues to show a resounding commitment to improving the human condition by tackling issues and projects that are not straightforward and require innovative thinking. Mr. Parker’s highest ambition is to ensure that all people have access to innovative, effective and affordable health care.
He has focused on eradicating malaria within 25 years, curing allergies and diabetes and curing cancer to improve the lives of many sick people suffering around the world. The Parker Foundation’s recent announcement of the creation of the Parker Institute for Cancer with a $250 million gift is another example of Mr. Parker’s out-of-the-box thinking and leadership.
The Parker Institute’s twenty-first century model is designed to overcome the barriers in translational medical research that have slowed progress. This stimulus is what the scientific community needs to find a cure for cancer for the 14 million new cases annually and 8 million deaths resulting from cancer each year worldwide. It brings together the top scientists, clinicians, cancer centers and industry partners to lead an intelligent, coordinated cancer immunotherapy research effort that rapidly translates research breakthroughs into better patient outcomes.
This is a unique, collaborative and entrepreneurial approach to scientific discovery, cutting across multiple fields to work with the many stakeholders. The Institute will develop a scientific roadmap and organize the field’s top researchers into all-star teams. It will invest big, fast and focused in high-risk, high-impact initiatives and will initiate close linkages between basic and clinical research. This research infrastructure will establish the best-in-class patient recruitment and trial management as well as manage the intellectual property.
The Parker Institute builds on Mr. Parker’s major philanthropic support, which will help to reinvigorate the world of charitable giving similar to what he has accomplished with social media nearly a decade ago. He transformed online social activism and philanthropy for the masses via Facebook Causes, which has enlisted 180 million people to donate funds and take action for social causes. Five years ago, Mr. Parker helped to establish Stand Up 2 Cancer and the Cancer Research Institute’s Immunotherapy Dream Team. In 2013, he was honored by CRI with the Oliver R. Grace Award for Distinguished Service in Advancing Cancer Research.
Mr. Parker has publicly affirmed his commitment to give away the majority of his fortune in his lifetime and in June 2015, he established the Parker Foundation with an initial gift of $600 million. As a father of two young children, he is an advocate of the moral imperative to “give back” and is personally deeply engaged in encouraging others to give, stating that he wants to create a model for other young philanthropists to follow.