Skip to Main Content


Brothers follow parents’ example to help fight cancer

Medicine@Yale, 2009 - Nov Dec


It would be an understatement to say that philanthropy runs in the family of Richard S. Sackler, M.D., and his brother, Jonathan Sackler. The names of their parents, Raymond and Beverly Sackler, adorn cultural and scientific centers around the world, from the Sackler Galleries at the British Museum, to the famed Sackler Wing of New York’s Metropolitan Museum, to the just-launched Raymond and Beverly Sackler Institute for Biological, Physical, and Engineering Sciences at Yale (see related story).

So it’s only fitting that both Richard Sackler and his wife, Beth, and Jonathan Sackler and his wife, Mary Corson, each head charitable foundations of their own—the Richard and Beth Sackler Foundation and the Bouncer Foundation.

In keeping with their family’s long-standing generosity to Yale, the brothers’ respective foundations have now joined forces to donate a $3 million endowment establishing the Richard Sackler and Jonathan Sackler Professorship, expressly intended to be held by those appointed as director of Yale Cancer Center (YCC).

“The Sackler family has a rich tradition of philanthropy, having provided significant support at Yale,” says Dean Robert J. Alpern, M.D. “They are actively involved in medical school programs, with Richard serving on Yale Cancer Center’s Advisory Board and the Dean's Council. I am most appreciative of this most recent gift, which will honor and support all future Yale Cancer Center directors.”

Richard Sackler, co-chairman of Stamford, Conn.-based Purdue Pharma and adjunct professor of genetics at Rockefeller University, says, “My father raised Jon and me to believe that philanthropy is an important part of how we should fill our days.” He says the new gift was inspired by his years of association with Richard L. Edelson, M.D., the Aaron B. and Marguerite Lerner Professor of Dermatology, who served as YCC director for five years until this past spring and, among other achievements, oversaw approval of the newly opened Smilow Cancer Hospital (see related story). “What he accomplished is terrific,” says Sackler, who credits Edelson with laying a solid foundation for the hiring of the current YCC director, Thomas J. Lynch Jr., M.D., whom Sackler calls a “world leader with a clear vision.”

For Jonathan Sackler’s part, his “deep interest in science and technology and in education,” led the Stamford-based Bouncer Foundation (named, he says, for a beloved family dog) to help establish the professorship. “This is the first significant gift that my brother and I have made together,” says Richard Sackler, who says it took little prompting on his part to convince Jonathan to endow the professorship. “When I described the gift to him, he very quickly said, ‘This is something we can do—so let’s do it.’”