In memory of her mother, J K Rowling's £10m for MS

At 45, J K Rowling is now the same age as her mother was when she succumbed to the ravages of multiple sclerosis. Anne Rowling's untimely death in 1990 – five years before her daughter first gave the world Harry Potter – has had a profound and lasting influence on the writer, who has been a vocal champion for sufferers of the degenerative disease ever since.

Now the creator of the bespectacled boy wizard, one of the most lucrative film and publishing phenomena of modern times, is putting her considerable wealth behind the mission to find a cure for the disease.

It was announced yesterday that the author had donated £10m to build a new clinic which she hopes will one day "unravel the mysteries" of MS. As well as investigating the causes and treatment of the condition, helping doctors to slow and eventually reverse the symptoms of the illness, the new centre at Edinburgh University – which will bear her late mother's name – is intended to become a world leader in research into other currently incurable neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and motor neurone disease.

The donation, one of the most generous that Ms Rowling has given to date and the largest ever received by Edinburgh University, comes a year after she resigned as a long-serving patron of the MS Society Scotland following a bitter row between the charity and its London headquarters over reorganisation plans.

But she has continued to support efforts to battle the condition, criticising the Scottish Medicines Consortium when it advised against prescribing the drug Tysabri on cost grounds, and giving substantial financial support to a new research unit also at Edinburgh University in 2007.

Ms Rowling, who is the seventh-richest person in Scotland with an estimated fortune of £519m, said her home city had already attracted some of the best clinicians and researchers in the field of neurodegeneration, and that the new clinic would put patients at the centre of any advances when it is completed next year. The Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic will be based in a purpose-built premises next to the city's Royal Infirmary.

"I have supported research into the cause and treatment of multiple sclerosis for many years now, but when I first saw the proposal for this clinic, I knew that I had found a project more exciting, more innovative, and, I believe, more likely to succeed in unravelling the mysteries of MS than any other I had read about or been asked to fund," she said.

Anne Rowling was 34 when she first began to suffer from pins and needles in her arm, and was diagnosed with MS the following year. Five years later, she relied on a wheelchair every day.

"At first, life went on much as usual, perhaps too much as usual. My mother made few, if any, concessions to her illness," Ms Rowling said, adding that she wept every time she wrote about her mother. "I saw her for the last time just before Christmas 1990. She was extremely thin and looked exhausted. I don't know how I didn't realise how ill she was."

MS affects about 100,000 people in the UK, and Scotland has one of the highest rates of sufferers. While doctors know that the disease causes myelin, a protective layer surrounding nerve cells in the brain, to break down, leading to symptoms such as numbness, fatigue and weakness, the exact cause is still not understood.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?