The donations announced today follow the Feb. 1 completion of a formal merger between Dai-ichi, Japan’s second largest life insurance company, and Protective, whose roots in Alabama’s largest city date back to 1907.
At a ceremony this morning at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, the companies said the $4.1 million in gifts will be split between the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), in partnership with Southern Research; the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce; and the Botanical Gardens.
“We worked diligently and in tandem with Protective leadership to identify recipients that align with our company’s mission of, ‘By your side, for life,’” said Koichiro Watanabe, Dai-ichi president and representative director. “Each recipient in some way reinforces our company values, our culture and our commitment to improving the lives of the people and communities we serve.”
The corporations said today’s donations represent the initial phase of a total $23 million, five-year commitment to community giving.
“These first pledges illustrate the Protective Life Foundation’s commitment to the community, which will remain at the core of our company’s culture,” said John D. Johns, Protective’s chairman, president and CEO
A total of $2 million over the next two years will go toward the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance (ADDA), a collaboration between UAB and Birmingham-based Southern Research that brings scientists and others together to develop new disease treatments.
The ADDA facilitates drug discovery and development utilizing the resources that exist at UAB and Southern Research, funding pilot projects at different stages of the development process. The funds pledged by Dai-ichi and Protective will be used to assist ADDA efforts across all stages of drug discovery, from testing to clinical trials.
The gift supplements $1 million that Protective paid to the ADDA initiative last year.
“The visionary philanthropy of both companies will help UAB, through our collaboration with Southern Research and the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance, to continue to pursue groundbreaking research to ultimately create new treatments and potential cures for cancer and other devastating diseases,” said Shirley Salloway Kahn, UAB senior vice president of development, alumni and external relations.
“This gift will play a vital role in enhancing UAB and Southern Research’s reputation as leaders in research and development and help boost economic development in our city and state,” she added.
Among the treatments in the ADDA discovery pipeline are therapies for diabetes, kidney disease, myeloma dysplastic syndrome, multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, many types of cancers and more, according to UAB.
In addition, $2 million in Dai-ichi/Protective funding will go to the Culverhouse College at the University of Alabama over the next three years.
The gift will be used to endow a professorship in partnership between the companies and the Culverhouse College called the “Dai-ichi Life Teaching Chair in Actuarial Sciences and Risk Management.” This professorship pays homage to the founder of Dai-ichi Life, Tsuneta Yano, known in Japan as the “father of mutual life insurance” and considered an insurance pioneer worldwide.
Another portion of the funding will be used to support the Culverhouse College’s Insurance Hall of Fame.
The Birmingham Botanical Gardens will receive $100,000 over the next two years to erect a barrier-free boardwalk in the 7.5-acre Japanese Gardens, one of its most popular features. The Japanese Gardens wer officially opened by the Japanese Ambassador to the United States in 1967 and named an official Japanese Cultural Center by the Japanese government in 1993.
“We are excited about our future as a member of the Dai-ichi Group – both in terms of what it means for Protective and what it means for the people of Alabama,” Johns said. “These generous contributions illustrate our collective and ongoing commitment to the community.”
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