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Djavad Mowafaghian

Developer gives Simon Fraser $4 million for health research

February 7, 2008

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By Erica Branda

On a recent tour of SFU’s nearly completed health sciences building, development manager Phil McCloy noted that there were no funds to equip a planned Level-3 containment laboratory for infectious-disease research.

So McCloy was pleasantly surprised to learn that a member of the tour group had removed that barrier. Vancouver philanthropist Djavad Mowafaghian (above) is donating $4 million to SFU, of which $1.5 million will be used to build and outfit the new laboratory.

The remaining $2.5 million will help researchers in SFU’s interdisciplinary Children’s Health Policy Centre ensure that the latest in scientific research is integrated into policies and programs that will improve children’s social and emotional development and mental health.

In the Level-3 containment lab, scientists will work with live viruses and, in collaboration with policy experts and health care professionals, translate their findings into informed, global public-health recommendations that can minimize the spread of disease in children.

According to the World Health Organization’s 2005 World Health Report, almost 90 per cent of all deaths among children under five years of age are attributable to five infectious diseases: lower respiratory infections (mostly pneumonia), diarrhea, malaria, measles and HIV/AIDS.

“Children are one of the most important investments that we can make,” says Mowafaghian, a developer who earned his fortune in Iran before moving to B.C. in 1987.

“They are the foundation of our society and need to be healthy to learn. Health and education are basic human rights, essential for a happy and productive life.”

“Over the years, Djavad Mowafaghian has demonstrated a deep commitment to making a difference for children by improving education and health, says SFU president Michael Stevenson.

“He has supported numerous hospital facilities, schools and scholarship programs, here and abroad. This is his first investment in basic academic research and I am delighted at his level of confidence in our new health sciences faculty.”

In recognition of his gift, SFU will name the two most public spaces in the new Faculty of Health Sciences building in his honour – the Djavad Mowafaghian Atrium, which will be one of the main entrances to the university, and the Djavad Mowafaghian Lecture Theatre.
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