Meyer family donates $75 million to New York medical college
Official: Gift to Weill Cornell Medical College ‘will make it possible for us to be at the forefront of cancer research.’
By Shannon Donnelly
Daily News Society Editor
For most folks, family meetings are about carpooling, curfews and cellphone bills.
But not at the Meyer house.
When Sandy and Ed sit down with their kids, Meg and Tony, the question is, “Who gets a $75 million family donation for cancer research?”
The answer: Weill Cornell Medical College.
The gift, from the Meyers personally and from their eponymous foundation, will expand and enhance the medical college’s research and care programs at what will now be known as the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College.
“I went to Cornell,” said Edward Meyer, a 15-year resident of Palm Beach, “but that’s only a small part of why we decided on Weill. My wife and I have known for some time that we would give a major gift to cancer research. We narrowed it down to some place in New York because we wanted to be physically close to where the work was being done.”
The Meyers also have a home in New York, not far from the medical center, and their son, Tony, “is raising our fourth generation of New Yorkers” nearby.
“We wanted to fund bench-to-bedside research,” he continued. “Not something that will help patients 20 years down the road. We wanted something that will help patients in a matter of months.”
Also working in Weill’s favor was Dr. Laurie Glimcher, who came to the medical center from Harvard.
“We met her and loved her, and then she astounded us by convincing Dr. (Lewis) Cantley to come from Harvard to WC to run their entire program.”
Cantley, as it turned out, had a Meyer family connection.
“My daughter, who is a professor of economics at Oxford, went to Harvard and studied in Lew’s lab when she was a biochem major,” Meyer said. “I flew her in from Oxford for a little reunion when we were having one of our meetings with Dr. Cantley, and she said he was exactly the outstanding doctor and researcher that she remembered.
“So it was a combination of things,” Meyer said about the staggering donation. “Weill is doing the kind of research that we were interested in, it was close by, my daughter vouched for Dr. Cantley, and I went to Cornell.”
“We are deeply thankful to the Meyer family for such an incredible gift,” said Cantley, the Meyer director of the cancer center. “Their generosity will enable us to realize our goal of developing cancer treatments that offer targeted, individualized care. … This gift will make it possible for us to be at the forefront of cancer research.”
The Meyers are hardly newcomers to the philanthropic arena. They funded the Edward H. Meyer professorship of economics at Cornell University and support several charities, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYU Langone Medical Center, the American Museum of Natural History, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the American Jewish Committee.
Sandra Meyer is a major supporter of Women for Women International, an institution that helps women move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency; a member of the Women and Foreign Policy Advisory Council of the Council on Foreign Relations; a member of the Group for the East End; and a board member of the Chamber Music Festival in Bridgehampton, where the couple has a summer home.
Edward Meyer is chairman of Ocean Road Advisors Inc., which directs investment and related activities. He is the former chairman, president and CEO of Grey Global Group, one of the world’s largest advertising companies.
So, does he watch Mad Men?
“Watch it? It’s based on me!” he said, laughing. “And it’s very accurate.”