Michael Milken - Philanthropist, Financier, Medical Research Innovator, Public Health Advocate

   Mikemilken.com  |  Biography  |  Some of Mike's Philanthropy

New York Times columnist David Brooks on CNN, April 24, 2011:
New York Times columnist David Brooks
"I was with Michael Milken recently and he's one of those guys who just soaks you in. He just wants to learn everything from every single person he meets. That is a pretty valuable talent."
Tommy Lasorda, legendary Major League Baseball manager
"I've been able to dine with presidents, with leaders of corporations (and I've) traveled for 14 years with financier and philanthropist Michael Milken, who has taught me so much about life."
Tommy Lasorda, legendary Major League Baseball manager
"Mike is someone
I have admired for...his drive to help make the world a better place."
NeXt Advisors
Co-founder Michael Moe was impressed with Mike's "Where's Sputnik? article, and included a summary in his weekly investor newsletter.
"Let me tell you
a story about
Mike Milken..."
Author Keith Ferrazzi, in his book, "Never Eat Alone...And Other Secrets to Success One Relationship at a Time," describes his interactions with Mike.
"Where Mike Speaks"
  • Accelerating medical solutions

    Mike's newest medical initiative, the FasterCures / The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions, carries forward his three decades of efforts in medical research. FasterCures is dedicated to shortening the time it takes to find cures and improved treatment outcomes for the most deadly and debilitating diseases. FasterCures is non-profit, non-partisan and independent of interest groups. Established in the spring of 2003, and headed by President Gregory Simon, FasterCures does not conduct scientific or clinical medical research. Rather, it mobilizes economists, medical researchers, clinicians, biologists, ethicists, genomics specialists, chemists, physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, legislative analysts and others to evaluate the entire research process, publish concrete policy recommendations, and provide leadership for their implementation. See Fastercures.org.

  • Progress against cancer

    Mike began to focus on cancer when members of his family were stricken with breast cancer and melanoma in the 1970s. This focus became a formal program in 1982 with the establishment of the Milken Family Foundation, which was endowed with several hundred million dollars. The Foundation has long supported basic and applied research in several disease categories. A decade later, when Mike was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he learned that research into its causes and treatment was inadequate. Because baby boomers were aging, prostate cancer deaths were expected to rise significantly by the end of the century. In 1993, Mike founded the Prostate Cancer Foundation (formerly CaP CURE) to jumpstart programs against the disease. As a result of greater awareness from Mike's nationwide activities, Congressional testimony, TV appearances, speeches, cancer marches and other initiatives, millions more men received diagnostic tests that caught the disease in early stages. Meanwhile, the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) became the world's largest philanthropic funder of prostate cancer research. Today, there are more than 80 PCF-sponsored human clinical trials that have led to improved treatments. For these and other reasons, the American Cancer Society estimates that fewer men will die this year than in 1993. Learn more about the PCF's inspiring history by ordering a copy of the new 236-page book, A Call to Action.

  • Greater support and recognition for teachers

    Since the mid-1980s, the Milken Family Foundation's National Educator Awards program has honored nearly 2,000 outstanding teachers and principals in cooperation with the Departments of Education in 47 states and the District of Columbia. By honoring the nation's leading educators, the program strives to attract, retain and motivate talented people to the challenge and adventure of teaching. Each educator receives an unrestricted award of $25,000 and participates in annual conferences and other professional activities that focus on best practices for the nation's three million teachers. The program has awarded approximately $50 million to date.

  • Improved math skills for inner-city kids

    Mike's Math Club is a curriculum enrichment program that shows elementary school students that math can be useful and entertaining. The Math Club team comprises full-time teacher-mentors who pay regular class-time visits to thousands of children in inner-city schools. Tens of thousands of students have participated. Mike devised many of the techniques and regularly teaches classes.

  • Direct support of medical research

    Programs and contributions by the Milken Family Foundation have made a difference in the battle against several serious diseases, especially AIDS, breast cancer and pediatric neurology. In the 1980s, Mike endowed a chair at the Dana Farber Cancer Center, was the primary benefactor of the Venice (Calif.) Family Clinic (which serves tens of thousands of people), and gave his time and resources to a wide range of medical causes. The Milken Family Medical Foundation was established in 1982 and provided grants to keep many young cancer researchers in their labs when they were tempted to pursue more-lucrative clinical practices. ). "Of all the programs we've supported over the last generation," says Milken, "the biggest payoff in terms of social benefit has come from the awards to young investigators." Among those who received awards in the 1980s were Dr. Dennis Slamon, who later discovered Herceptin, a revolutionary breakthrough in the treatment of one type of breast cancer; Dr. Bert Vogelstein, who did pioneering work on the incalculably important p53 gene whose mutant form is believed to be involved in more than half of human cancers; Dr. Owen Witte, whose subsequent work provided the basis for the development of the breakthrough drug Gleevec, now used as a frontline therapy for patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia; Dr. Lawrence Einhorn, who as the developer of a highly successful chemotherapy regimen for testicular cancer, later treated five-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong; Dr. Philip Leder, a pioneer in molecular biology who contributed to the deciphering of the genetic code; Dr. Charles Myers, who went on to become Chief of the Clinical Pharmacology branch of the National Cancer Institute and today heads the American Institute for Diseases of the Prostate; and many more. In addition to his personal contributions, Mike has been tireless in raising millions of dollars from the public to support medical research.

  • Advancing understanding of epilepsy

    Since the 1980s, the American Epilepsy Society/Milken Family Foundation Epilepsy Research Award, Grant & Fellowship Program has presented major awards to acknowledge the important contributions of physicians and scientists to the current level of understanding of epilepsy. Young researchers, at a critical stage in their careers, are provided incentives to pursue epilepsy research. The program has made more than 100 research awards and fellowship grants.

  • Advocacy for increased public-sector programs

    Mike Milken has been a catalyst for major increases in funding for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the extensive medical programs of the Department of Defense (DoD). Mike has testified repeatedly before both houses of Congress and brought together public policy leaders to map more effective disease-fighting strategies. In 1995, he organized the first National Cancer Summit and presented a ten-point program, much of which has been adopted. The same year, he organized a conference at the Food and Drug Administration that led to legislation, signed by President Clinton, accelerating approval of cancer drugs. In 1998, he was co-chairman of The March, which brought together 600 organizations in the largest anti-cancer advocacy event in history. 150,000 people in Washington and 300,000 around the U.S. demonstrated for increased government funding. As a result of these and other initiatives, Congress has significantly increased the budgets of the NIH and other relevant agencies.

  • Services for deserving college students

    The Milken Scholars program has assisted 194 extraordinary students who have special needs because of immigration status (at least one parent was born outside the U.S. of 65% of Milken Scholars), poverty, unstable family situations and other issues. More than a simple scholarship program, these kids are virtually adopted by a caring staff who assist them with multiple aspects of adjusting to college life including travel arrangements, clothing and book purchases, and other services throughout four years of college and, in many cases, graduate school. These students have average SAT scores of 1403. Over the past 14 years, 36 have gone to Harvard, 20 to Stanford, 16 to Yale, 13 to Columbia, eight to the University of Pennsylvania, seven each to the University of California, Berkeley and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, six to Brown University and five each to Princeton and Cornell. With more than 65 students still in undergraduate studies and 23 in graduate programs across the U.S., Milken Scholars have earned 77 bachelor's degrees and 27 graduate degrees.

  • Accelerated research

    Medical researchers used to spend up to one third of their time completing complex grant applications and then waiting months or years for an answer. By the time an answer came, their proposed research had often become obsolete. The Prostate Cancer Foundation broke the mold with five-page grant applications and answers in 60-90 days. Other organizations, including government agencies, have followed this lead by streamlining their application process, often by as much as 75%. This leads to faster, better research and, ultimately, lives saved. Order a copy of the new 236-page book, A Call to Action, which tells the inspiring story of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

  • Better inter-disciplinary communication

    The Prostate Cancer Foundation's annual Scientific Retreat has become what the Journal of the American Medical Association says is "one of the major events in the war on cancer." Before the Foundation, academic researchers rarely spoke to their counterparts in large pharmaceutical companies; biotechnology investigators and government regulators had no forum for an informal exchange of ideas; and clinicians had little knowledge of how computer scientists could enhance their therapies. Mike Milken brings the world's leaders in these and other fields (including journalists and legislators) together each fall to report findings and explore innovative strategic approaches to treatments and cures.

  • Preparing minority youth for the future

    Now in its 17th year, the Milken Family Literacy and Youth Training Center of the Los Angeles Urban League helps minority youth—including teen parents, high school dropouts, ex-offenders, welfare recipients, and the economically disadvantaged—to fulfill their potential and enter the workforce. Each student participates in a comprehensive program of employability assessment, testing and counseling; pre-employment skills training; computer literacy; and basic remediation. The Milken Center has trained more than 15,000 people and, as one of the nation's first such programs to focus on computer training, it has launched hundreds of students on information technology careers.
  • Encouraging young people to make a difference

    The Milken Family Foundation Festival for Youth is a community service program that helps teach young people, including those living in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and those with special needs, that everyone can make a difference to the well being of society. The Festival accomplishes this by channeling youngsters' time, energy and creativity into constructive service projects aimed at improving the communities in which they live. Initiated more than a decade ago, the program has reached almost one million children. Students, school personnel and community organization leaders design Festival for Youth community service projects at sites around the country.

  • Nutritional research

    Mike has supported advanced scientific studies of the relationship between diet and health. This work led to the publication of Mike's Taste for Living Cookbook on healthy eating and the establishment of a new company, Miavita, which provides services to corporations that want to encourage healthier lifestyles for their employees. These activities help to support the Prostate Cancer Foundation's ongoing research grant programs.

  • Help for learning-disabled children

    The Michael and Lori Milken Education and Therapy Building at the H.E.L.P. Group was dedicated in 1996. The H.E.L.P. Group is the largest facility of its kind in California serving some 3,500 children with severe emotional and learning needs. Mike has been personally involved with the H.E.L.P. Group since the 1980s.
  • Relieving the suffering of children in war zones

    Caring for Children, a charity founded in 1986 with a grant from the Milken Family Foundation and supported with annual Foundation grants ever since, has provided half a million teddy bears to children in 23 countries wracked by violence or natural disasters. Founder Samantha Grier says a teddy bear is more than a toy. "It can serve as therapeutic intervention for children suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome."

  • Supporting and preserving Jewish culture

    Hailed by The New York Times as "a lesson on how to connect the eye to heart and mind," the Skirball Cultural Center has established itself as one of the world's most dynamic Jewish cultural institutions, and among the most prominent cultural venues in the United States. The Skirball's Milken Gallery, for which the Milken Family Foundation was the lead benefactor, contains exhibits that explore the connections between four thousand years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of American democratic ideals. The Milken Archive of American Jewish Music, a recording project dedicated to discovering and preserving the rich body of sacred and secular American Jewish music of the past 250 years, strives to educate, entertain and inspire people of all faiths and cultures. A major work in progress, the Archive will comprise the largest collection of American Jewish music ever assembled. It will be complemented by an American Jewish music curriculum, a book synthesizing the music and its history, and an oral history video collection. The Milken Archive, in association with the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Juilliard School, presented an international conference and festival of Jewish music in New York in November. Details are at www.milkenarchive.org.