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Sep 08, 2014 03:02 AM EDT

The Harvard University has received a $350 million gift, largest in the school's history, to support efforts to combat world's pressing health issues. The donation to the School of Public Health (HSPH) was made by The Morningside Foundation, established by the family of late T.H. Chan.

Honouring the contribution, the officials will rename the School to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

"The Chan family's commitment to education and their belief in the power of public health is an inspiration, and their generosity will ensure we have the resources to continue to develop the most innovative solutions that will enable millions of people to live longer and healthier lives, now and in the future," Harvard School of Public Health Dean Julio Frenk said in a statement.

Frenk said that the gift will concentrate on four global health concerns: pandemics like malaria, Ebola, cancer, and obesity; harmful physical and social environments like tobacco use, gun violence and pollution; poverty and humanitarian crises triggering from war and natural disasters; and failing health care systems around the world.

Harvard President Drew Faust said that it is our responsibility to enhance people's health and lives around the world.

"The field of public health drives discoveries that lead to healthier, longer, more-productive lives," Faust said. "This extraordinary gift from the Chan family will enable Harvard's School of Public Health to tackle intractable health problems and to translate rigorous research into action and policy worldwide. It will inspire a new generation of public health leaders."

Gerald Chan, a director of The Morningside Foundation, said that his father was a staunch supporter of education and scientific research to ease human suffering. The $350 million gift is the second donation by the Foundation. In 2012, it endowed a professorship in radiobiology.

Meredith Rosenthal, professor of health economics and policy and the School's associate dean for diversity, said the gift will help build a diverse campus community and increase support for qualified students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and developing nations. Such support will permit students to graduate without any debts.

David Hunter, the Vincent Gregory Professor in Cancer Prevention and the School's dean for academic affairs, said that the gift will also support changes to the doctoral program and fund research projects in initial stages that are not ready to qualify for traditional grant programs.

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