Top Philanthropist for Diabetes

by Mark Benson on June 9, 2012

One man's goal against diabetes

Alfred E. Mann is an American businessman and philanthropist born back in 1925 in Portland, OR. As of 2007, he is estimated to be worth US$2 billion, making him one of the richest man in the United States (204th overall) and the world (309th overall).

Born of a Polish mother and an English father, he moved from the United Kingdom to the United States in 1946. He obtained his Bachelor’s and Masters of Science degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles. His graduate work focused on nuclear and mathematical physics. Because of his philanthrophic work, he has been conferred honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Southern California, John Hopkins University, Western University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

His main areas of business is in aerospace, when in 1956 he established his first company Spectrolab. Spectrolab was an electrooptical systems company which worked alongside another one of his companies, Heliotek, which focused on semiconductors. His companies became one of the major suppliers for spacecraft solar cells, providing electrical power for over a hundred spacecraft missions, including the ones used during the lunar experiments. He sold these successful companies and then re-established himself with Pacesetter Systems, a company that built cardiac pacemakers. He sold this company and then established MiniMed, the world’s foremost company on insulin pumps and continuous glucose devices as well as Advanced Bionics for neuroprosthetics, specifically restoration of hearing for the deaf.

Currently, Mann is still involved in the business of improving human lives, such as CEO and Chairman of the Board for MannKind Corporation. This company is working on a unique inhalable insulin that can be used for diabetes managements as well as vaccines for cancer. He is also founder and Chairman of Second Sight, a company working on building retinal prosthesis and in the same capacity for Bioness, a company involved in applying electrostimulation for functional neural defects. He is also Chairman for Quallion LLC, a battery maker for medical products, Stellar Microelectronics, an electronic circuit manufacturer for medical and aerospace industries and the Southern California Biomedical Council.

His philanthropic work has lead him to establish the Alfred E. Mann Institutes for Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California, which received US$162 million, Purdue University with US$100 million and Technion Israel with US$104 million. These three endowments are business incubators for medical device development to eventually become available to the market. The aim of the foundation would be to help others through the creation of devices from debilitating medical impairments such as diabetes, with patents and patent revenues retained by the company.

Mann says, “When my success exceeded my expectations, I began to think of a way to return to society what it has given to me.”


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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