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Anonymous philanthropist donates $100 million to support research at CAMH

Canada: An anonymous philanthropist has donated $100 million to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, an unprecedented sum that President and CEO Dr. Catherine Zahn says helps inject “wild, wild hope” into CAMH’s mission to “bring justice to people with mental illness.”

The $100-million donation, the largest ever given to mental health in Canada, will go towards the creation of a new “Discovery Fund” that will support the recruitment of top scientists and help them conduct high-risk, high-reward research while at CAMH.

“The bold science leaders will be resourced to think big, the curious young clinicians will be positioned to jump high and the budding up and comers of all stripes will be nurtured to reach far,” Zahn said at a press conference announcing the donation. “They will have the ability to dream and to explore new approaches, new ideas and high-risk, high-reward innovations. These experts and experts-in-waiting will do the best work of their lives while they are here.”


Zahn said that there is only a “nascent understanding” of the “genetic, biological and social causes” of mental illness and as a result “mental disorders remain disorienting and frightening to many.”

She said that the large donation will give Canadians “more reason than ever to be hopeful” that a clearer understanding will emerge, one that could ultimately lead to the discovery of the “causes and cures for mental illness.”

According to a press release, the ‘”Discovery Fund” will specifically help CAMH recruit and support “early and mid-career scientists” and invest in “enhancing the data, data platforms and analytics” that will help translate “research findings into clinical practice.”

The press release also says that the donation will primarily focus on supporting research around “understanding disease mechanisms, effective diagnosis, testing; and new ways to predict, prevent and recover from mental illness.”

“As a proud Canadian myself I am in awe of this act of patriotism and the desire to build a better and more compassionate Canada and so I am sending my own one hundred million thank you’s from the bottom of my heart to our bold benefactor,” Zahn said. “This extraordinary gift is a validation of the collective effort, the years of speaking when no one listened, the steadfast devotion to a cause when no one believed, the stubborn certainty that we could make a difference, that we would transform lives.”

Donor wants to ‘enable quantum leaps forward’

No details have been provided as to the identity of the anonymous donor, however in a press release they said that they “have seen the devastating impact of mental illness on individuals and their families” and want to support research that will “directly transform care.”

The donor also said that they are specifically interested in supporting high-risk, high-reward research that can “enable quantum leaps forward.”

“I believe CAMH is well-positioned to make a transformational impact in the field of mental health research,” the donor said.

Meanwhile at Wednesday news conference, the President and CEO of the CAMH Foundation called the donation an “unpreceded, history making gift.

Darrell Gregersen said that the money will allow CAMH researchers to “shift (their) work into high gear.

“It is truly an exciting time to be working in mental health in any capacity and thanks to today’s announcement we will be able to shift work into high gear from which the world can benefit,” she said.