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May 13, 2004

Multi-Million Dollar Gifts to Aid Scholars and Mother and Infant Mortality Prevention

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has received two multi-million dollar commitments. One is to support students studying at the School, and the second is to support research activities to prevent blindness, and mother and infant mortality in the developing world. Both gifts were announced on April 23 during the School’s rededication ceremony.

The scholar aid comes from an anonymous donor who committed $22 million over the next 10 years. The gift will support the studies of master’s and doctoral students. At the request of the donor, students who receive the funds will be known as Sommer Scholars in honor of Alfred Sommer, MD, MHS, dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, who is a long-time advocate for student financial support. 

The School will also receive a multi-million dollar gift from Drs. Zell and Emily Kravinsky. Zell Kravinsky is a scholar and real estate investment fund manager in Philadelphia. His wife, Emily, is a psychiatrist. The Kravinskys’ gift will be used to support activities at the School to prevent blindness and maternal mortality and to reduce infant mortality in the developing world by one-third. The Kravinskys support the work of Dean Sommer and his colleagues, which has conclusively proven over two decades that correcting vitamin A deficiencies reduces child deaths in poorer countries by approximately that amount.

“The fact that millions die around the world for want of a treatment costing thousands of dollars a year is tragic; that millions die for want of $0.2 of vitamins is lunacy,” said Zell Kravinsky. “Our country spends less on the economically feasible exportation of public health than on the economically ruinous importation of gourmet pet food, and until we invert that ratio, we will never be a great society. I believe the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is growing us towards greatness and I’m grateful for the chance to grow along with it.”

“I would like to thank the Kravinsky family. Their vision and generosity will enable the School of Public Health to continue its important work of improving the lives of mothers and children around the world,” said Dr. Sommer. “I would also like to thank our anonymous donor. The Sommer Scholarship fund will enable a new generation of scientists to pursue new ways for protecting health and saving lives. Personally, it is a great honor to have a scholarship program named after me, particularly one that will benefit so many students and through them, the health of millions.”

Both gifts will count toward the goals of the Johns Hopkins Knowledge for the World campaign. Commitments to the campaign through March 31 totaled $1.344 billion, which is 67 percent of the campaign’s $2 billion goal. To date, $307.39 million has been donated to the School of Public Health. Priorities of the fund-raising campaign, which benefits both The Johns Hopkins University and The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, include strengthening endowment for student aid and faculty support; advancing research, academic and clinical initiatives; and building and upgrading facilities on all campuses. The campaign began in July 2000 and is scheduled to end in 2007.

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Brigham at 410-955-6878 or