Philip Morris USA Supports Medical Research and Business Leadership with $25 Million Gift to U.Va.

February 09, 2007
Feb. 9, 2007 -- The University of Virginia announced today that it will receive a $25 million gift from Richmond-based Philip Morris USA.

The gift — the largest single corporate gift received by the University since the institution publicly launched its $3 billion Campaign for the University of Virginia last September — will create a partnership between the two organizations that will support independent research in a number of key areas in which they share a common interest.

Approximately $20 million of the total gift will support research and projects in the School of Medicine, including an innovative collaboration between the School of Medicine and the McIntire School of Commerce, to help prevent youth smoking, improve the effectiveness of smoking-cessation efforts and reduce the harm caused by smoking.  Additional research is expected to increase scientific knowledge of the psychological and physiological basis of addictions and to foster a clearer understanding at the molecular level of the genesis and progression of diseases associated with smoking.

The remaining $5 million will support an expansion of the company’s relationship with the McIntire School in the areas of leadership development, recruitment and critical business issues expected to arise in the future.

“We are pleased to receive this gift from Philip Morris USA.  The gift supports research that may ultimately prevent or cure addictions and serious diseases, such as lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema,” said U.Va. President John T. Casteen III.  “Faculty researchers here are engaged in ground-breaking molecular research aimed at identifying the genes that make certain people susceptible to chemical and nicotine dependencies, and others apparently not susceptible, and at developing medical-imaging techniques to enhance medical understanding of smoking-related illnesses.  This generous gift will provide the means to continue that research and to expand on it.”

Casteen added that today’s announcement builds on an existing relationship between the University of Virginia and Philip Morris USA.  Prior gifts of $2.3 million from the company to U.Va. have supported initiatives at the School of Law, the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership and the Darden School Foundation, and also made it possible for Richmond City School’s leadership team to attend the University’s Darden-Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education program, a joint initiative of the Curry School of Education and the Darden School of Business.

“We believe this partnership has the potential to make significant progress on reducing the harm associated with cigarettes and could yield great benefits to society," said Mike Szymanczyk, chairman and chief executive officer of Philip Morris USA. “We are proud to be able to play a constructive role in this campaign, and to expand our long-standing relationship with this great University.”

In addition to the company’s support for the University of Virginia, Philip Morris USA has made significant investments in youth-smoking prevention and cessation programs and in research. 

Since 1998, Philip Morris USA has invested $1 billion in youth-smoking prevention programs through its Youth Smoking Prevention department and its responsible retailing incentives.

Between 1999 and 2006, Philip Morris USA has provided grants in excess of $176 million to schools, school districts and youth-focused organizations across the United States to help them implement programs that help young people develop confidence and avoid risky behaviors, such as smoking.