Len Blavatnik is a global philanthropist committed to advancing science, higher education, good government and the arts through meaningful involvement and charitable giving. Born in Odesa, Ukraine, he is a dual American and British citizen, knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017 for his service to philanthropy and, in 2013, he was appointed Chevalier of the French Legion d’Honneur for his support of education.
He established the Blavatnik Family Foundation, a 501(c)(3) private foundation that is exclusively self-funded. Over the past decade, the Foundation has contributed more than $1 billion to over 250 charitable institutions worldwide.
Upholding the values instilled in him by his academic parents, Blavatnik’s giving strategy prioritizes scientific research and discovery and higher education. Donations are highly concentrated to drive meaningful impact and to promote innovation in science, engineering and technology that will benefit the whole of society.
The Foundation focuses on select institutions leading the way in early-stage discovery vital to scientific and health-related breakthroughs. Blavatnik believes that funding young scientists at premier universities and scientific research centers will more quickly advance research and transform discovery into practical applications to improve human health.
To date, the Foundation has donated more than $475 million to institutions renowned for their study of basic and life sciences. This includes the largest gift in the history of Harvard Medical School at $200 million as well as $60 million for Harvard Business School initiatives and other research initiatives related to the life sciences at Harvard University. Other transformational grants and fellowships include $35 million to Yale University and multimillion-dollar grants to the Stanford University School of Medicine, Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Tel Aviv University.
In 2007, Blavatnik created the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists together with the New York Academy of Sciences. With a distinguished judging panel of numerous Nobel laureates and many of the world’s most esteemed scientists, the award recognizes promising scientists in the early stages of their careers and at a point in scientific discovery when seed funding can most significantly accelerate breakthrough research. The awards are funded through the Foundation’s commitment of $30 million that, to date, has supported more than 375 scientists in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel.
Blavatnik is an avid supporter of universities distinguished by programs of excellence in the study of international business and government. Foundation donations have included a £75 million gift to the University of Oxford, so that it could establish a school of government.
Opening in 2012 with a mission to inspire and further better government and public policy globally, alumni from the Blavatnik School of Government have gone on to become public service leaders around the world, including deputy director of the UK’s Department of International Trade, policy adviser to the head of the European Political Strategy Centre, chief of staff for the Ministry of Education’s Cabinet Office in Kenya, head of the District Secretariat for Women’s Affairs in Bogotá, Columbia, the youngest ever minister in Yemen, and members of the Provincial Parliament in Canada and Brazilian House of Representatives.
Blavatnik also created the Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship program at Harvard Business School to provide MBA students with experience in life science entrepreneurship through exposure to biomedical projects at Harvard.
A lifelong patron of the arts, Blavatnik has supported world-class cultural institutions by donating more than $150 million to theaters, museums and performing arts centers.
The Foundation’s contributions have ranged from $25 million to Carnegie Hall in New York to fund the growth of its artistic, educational and digital initiatives to £50 million to the Tate Modern Museum in London, one of its largest gifts, to generous support of the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 2020, the Foundation announced a £10 million gift to The Courtauld Institute for Art to support a major transformation of the world leading art history center.
Blavatnik is actively involved in a variety of educational, scientific and cultural pursuits. He serves on the boards of Tel Aviv University and Carnegie Hall and is a member of the Harvard University Global Advisory Council. He is also a founding patron of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, a program created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute in 2013.
Blavatnik is the chairman and founder of Access Industries, a privately held global investment group established in 1986. Born in the former Soviet Union in 1957, Blavatnik attended Moscow State University and later immigrated with his family to the U.S. in 1978. He earned a master’s degree in computer science from Columbia University in 1981, became a U.S. citizen in 1984, and received his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1989. He became a dual citizen of the UK in 2010.