Co-founder Jim Mellon donates £1m to Oriel College at Oxford to improve future health resilience

  • Gift will establish the Mellon Longevity Science Programme at Oriel College to help the most vulnerable in society by advancing research into health resilience in ageing populations
  • Largest UK university gift to target longevity science will create, in perpetuity, a DPhil scholarship in Ageing and Cell Senescence

Oxford, 15 May 2020 – Oriel College, University of Oxford, announces today that Jim Mellon, British investor and philanthropist, Oriel alumni and Honorary Fellow , has gifted GBP 1 million (USD 1.25million) to support and advance the study of Longevity Science at Oxford. 

The gift is the largest of its kind dedicated to Longevity Science to a UK university, making Oxford and Oriel College a focal point for efforts to improve future health resilience by boosting the immunity and healthspan of ageing populations. More specifically, the gift will:

  • support the work of Professor Lynne Cox, George Moody Fellow in Biochemistry at Oriel College , and a principal investigator in the Department of Biochemistry.  Her lab studies the molecular basis of human ageing, with the aim of reducing the morbidity and frailty associated with old age through better health and immune resilience;
  • allow the creation, in perpetuity, of a DPhil scholarship in Ageing and Cell Senescence at Oriel College;
  • promote and support interdisciplinary research into ageing through collaboration between the University’s Oxford Ageing Network (OxAgeN), which is co-led by Professor Cox, and the Ageing Research Collaborative Hub (ARCH) which includes researchers from Oxford’s numerous academic divisions (including humanities, social sciences, medical sciences, mathematical, physical, engineering and life sciences);
  • foster a closer network of leaders in the longevity field centred around Oriel College.

Commenting on the gift, Neil Mendoza, Provost, Oriel College, said: “We are grateful to Jim Mellon for his generosity and continued support for the  College and the University. This gift will allow us to establish Oriel as a focal point for what we believe is an essential area of research with a potential for high impact and positive returns for science and the economy. Private philanthropy remains critical to our ability to continue to advance science in this nascent area and contribute to society.” 

Jim Mellon added: “There has never been a more important time to address the frailty of human health. The current pandemic has highlighted the huge economic and social costs connected to the lack of immune resilience in our increasingly ageing population and the need for greater scientific research into this area.

Boosting immunoresilience among the most vulnerable in society and advancing healthspan are critical to helping more people reach their potential as well as, more urgently, improving our collective resilience in the face of future pandemics. Oxford’s leadership in the field of research and understanding of the ageing process makes it a natural home to advance longevity science and support the growth of the longevity industry, and I am proud to support this work.”

Prof. Lynne Cox, George Moody Fellow in Biochemistry, Oriel College, added: “With the incidence of chronic health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and dementia rising rapidly with age, and older people most at risk of both becoming infected with, and suffering adverse outcomes from infectious disease, the ability to support better health through the lifecourse via early intervention presents a cost-effective approach to improving national health and resilience. This gift will significantly bolster our ability to study the process of cell ageing and advance interventions that can improve health and immune resilience.”