From Hedge Funds to Philanthropy: Dan Loeb and the Fight to Cure Alzheimer’s Disease

Image of a brain and firing synapses

The Loebs’ generous donation is leading the way to new Alzheimer’s research.
Image: Shutterstock

Dan Loeb may be best known for being a tough hedge fund manager, but he’s also the co-founder of the Ronald M. Loeb Center for Alzheimer’s Disease, which he established with his wife Margaret Munzer Loeb in honor of his father, who died of Alzheimer’s in 2012. The Center now focuses on research and treatment, as well as supporting families whose members are struggling with the disease.

The Loeb Center has become a vital part of the Mount Sinai Health System, which covers a multisite network treating more than 3,000 patients every year. Though its research programs have received more than $200 million from the National Institutes of Health–in fact, the NIH designated it as one of the first five Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers in the country–the Loebs’ donation is different.

According to Kenneth L. Davis, the president and chief executive of Mount Sinai, the Loeb Center allows researchers to work on a new approach to drug development. Instead of looking at genes that could be considered risk factors, scientists will be able to learn more about protective genes that provide disease resistance. This research isn’t normally federally funded, so Mount Sinai hasn’t been able to do it before.

Alzheimer’s can be catastrophic for those suffering from it, not to mention their families. Loeb explained his family’s fervor behind the $14 million donation that got the Center started by remembering his father, who died from a heart attack at age 79. Ronald Loeb had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for eight years, during which time, his son remembers, he withdrew from his favorite activities, including travel, meditation, and yoga. The elder Loeb had been a Korean War veteran who graduated from the University of California Los Angeles and Harvard Law School before pursuing a successful career as a corporate lawyer.

“We saw immediately, from the diagnosis on, his life was effectively over,” Loeb said. “He was like a dead man walking. I got a chance to see the ravages of this disease firsthand.”

The pain of having had to witness his father’s decline may lead to some good yet, though: Loeb knows how important it is to move Alzheimer’s research forward. “It is an honor to establish this center in my father’s memory to support groundbreaking work in Alzheimer’s disease research,” Loeb said. “When my father was sick, I learned how painful this illness is for those afflicted and their families. I also recognized that there is little hope for patients today beyond slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s. We urgently need more resources to find a cure of effective prevention.”

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