Skip to main content
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Naomi Azrieli, chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation, in 2019.

Yuri Dojc/The Azrieli Foundation

The organizer: Naomi Azrieli

The pitch: Donating over $1-million to Holland Bloorview’s Bloorview Research Institute

The reason: To fund research into neurodevelopment

Story continues below advertisement

When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold last year, Naomi Azrieli knew research scientists would be hard hit as funding dried up and labs were forced to close because of restrictions on social movement.

Dr. Azrieli heads the Azrieli Foundation, a family foundation set up by her father, David Azrieli, which supports a variety of initiatives in education and health care. One of the foundation’s key priorities is funding research into neurodevelopment. “We have a deep belief that every human being deserves to live the fullest life that they can,” Dr. Azrieli said from her home in Toronto. “If you want to define what a successful society is, it’s one that’s inclusive of the most vulnerable and can offer opportunities to them.”

Dr. Azrieli said the foundation has had a keen interest in the work being done at Toronto’s Bloorview Research Institute, part of the Holland Bloorview Hospital, which is one of Canada’s largest childhood disability research centres. When she learned that the pandemic had shut down nearly all of the institute’s research projects, the foundation donated just over $1-million to keep the labs open.

The funding supported 14 research initiatives, including six led by scientists in their early research careers and eight run by students. The projects covered a range of areas from acquired brain injury and autism to social justice issues.

Dr. Azrieli said the research has personal significance since several members of her family have neurodevelopmental disorders. “Our experiences with my older brother and cousins led us to want to support research in this area,” she said. “We do a lot of granting in different fields, and this one [to Bloorview] feels so good to me. You could really see the impact. Research was not stopped.”

She added that the foundation expects to continue working with Holland Bloorview. “When the pandemic is over, people with disabilities are still going to be there. People with neurodevelopmental disorders are still going to need help. The research still needs to continue.”

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies