Czech philanthropists donate record sum to science

Hana Dvořáková, Dalimil Dvořák, photo: ČTK/Ondřej Deml

A private Czech foundation has decided to donate an unprecedented sum of money in the history of Czech philanthropy to science. Hana and Dalimil Dvořák, both leading chemists, have pledged to contribute 200 million crowns over the next two decades to dozens of chemistry and science students. The money comes from patent royalties from antiviral drugs used to treat HIV.

Hana Dvořáková,  Dalimil Dvořák,  photo: ČTK/Ondřej Deml
Speaking at a press conference this week, Hana and Dalimil Dvořák announced that in addition to its existing support and grants for early-stage researchers, their foundation will also focus on high school and university students. The donation of 200 million crowns will rank Experientia among the country’s top ten private foundations and the biggest ever focused exclusively on science.

Mrs Dvořáková acquired her wealth by being part of the team of the world famous Czech scientist Antonín Holý, whose research led to the development of drugs to treat a wide number of diseases, including HIV.

“I cooperated with Professor Antonín Holý between the years 1986 to 1996. The main focus of the research group was the synthesis of anticancer and antiviral agents, and therefore I became the co-author of the patents. The agents were eventually approved for clinical use and they save millions of lives.”

After the year 2000, Hana Dvořáková started to receive substantial sums of money from patent royalties. With their modest lifestyle, she says her family would never make use of so much money and therefore they started contributing to various charities.

Seven years ago, she and her husband decided to establish their own foundation, which would focus exclusively on science:

“We want to support two fellowships abroad a year, a new project of scientific start-ups and we also want to engage in talent management, to attract young students in secondary schools to chemistry.”

Hana Dvořáková’s husband explains why they decided to channel their support to a relatively narrow field of science.

Photo illustrative: jarmoluk,  Pixabay,  CC0
“The choice to support young scientists is obvious. We want our activity to have an impact. That’s why we are investing into a relatively narrow field, to be able to see the result in the foreseeable future and so far it seems promising.”

To this day, Experientia has helped 13 young scientists from the Czech Republic to launch their career. One of them is Tomáš Slanina, who is now a member of the foundation’s management board:

“Thanks to the foundation’s support, I don’t have to wait for a vacancy. I can actively communicate with universities and Science Academy departments and negotiate conditions for creating an independent research group. This is the main advantage and there has been nothing like that before.”

Hana and Dalimil Dvořák are hoping that apart from promoting the good name of the Czech Republic abroad, their activity will help Czech science reach world-class results and, maybe even help one of the young Czech scientific hopefuls win a Nobel Prize in the future.