When Dr. BR Shetty immigrated from India to Abu Dhabi in 1973, he had the equivalent of $8 in his pocket and his mother’s dream for him to succeed. With a clinical degree in pharmacy, he got a job as the first door-to-door pharmaceutical salesperson in Abu Dhabi. Two years later, he started a small medical clinic that employed one physician, his wife, Dr. CR Shetty. Today, on the site where the clinic once stood is a hospital—one of several operated by the Shettys’ global conglomerate NMC Healthcare.
With their success, the Shettys decided to start the Dr. BR and CR Shetty Foundation in India. In 2018, the Shettys signed The Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. Recently, the family contributed $2.7 million to Brigham and Women’s Hospital for research to personalize treatments for Parkinson’s disease.
Vikram Khurana, MD, PhD, chief of the Brigham’s Division of Movement Disorders, is leading the initiative in consultation with Todd Sherer, PhD, CEO of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, who is providing insights on research direction and findings.
“My family and I believe it is our moral responsibility to give back. Only when you share your success does it multiply.” —Dr. BR Shetty
“Our ultimate goal is to see the medical community find a cure for Parkinson’s,” says Dr. BR Shetty. “Dr. Khurana’s approach gives us hope each patient can be supported according to their needs.”
Dr. CR Shetty adds, “Our experience with Dr. Khurana shows he is a human being first before he is a doctor. Our faith and trust in him inspired us to support his search to improve lives.”
With the Shettys’ investment, Khurana is working to better understand patients’ individual biological and genetic makeup by screening their stem cells and matching them to potential therapies.
“Current therapies improve symptoms but don’t address the root cause of nerve cell degeneration in the brain,” says Khurana, a principal investigator in the Brigham’s Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases. “With the Shettys’ gift, we’re exploring treatments tailored to each patient.”
Says Dr. BR Shetty, “With the highest aging population in world history, we need to find ways to better support the older generation, especially with research on the brain. My family and I believe it is our moral responsibility to give back. Only when you share your success does it multiply.”