Sophie and Don Hunter

A transformational gift will advance ground-breaking Alzheimer's Disease research

University Hospital Foundation Receives $4 Million Matching Gift to Advance Alzheimer's Disease Research in Alberta

The University Hospital Foundation (UHF) is honoured to receive a $4 million donation towards advancing research into Alzheimer’s disease in Alberta. Donated by local philanthropist Don Hunter, the gift will hopefully inspire a matching $4 million in donations to find a cure for Alzheimer’s once and for all.

“Alzheimer’s affects more people than you think. That’s why I’m donating. Everyone knows someone impacted by the disease and we can do something, now, if we get behind these researchers,” shares Don.

Sophie Hunter with daughter, Leslie. Top image, Don Hunter with his wife Sophie, who inspired his transformational gift.

More than 50 million people are living with dementia worldwide and this figure is expected to double over the next 20 years.

Don is no stranger to Alzheimer’s and the devastation it can bring to a family. Twelve years ago, Don’s wife of more than 60 years, Sophie Hunter, was diagnosed with the disease. The family noticed how she increasingly grew confused, losing her way to familiar locations and behaving strangely with friends and family. As Sophie lost the ability to communicate, life-long friends stopped visiting with her or calling.

“It’s hard to explain, but it (Alzheimer’s) is terrible,” Don says. “Every time I look at her, it brings tears to my eyes. She was a vibrant person, kind and good to those kids and to me. She was my partner.”

The lonely, alienating experience that comes with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is unfortunately all too common — but there is hope. 

Renowned clinician scientists are on the path to a treatment with potential to prevent and possibly reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s.

University of Alberta Professor and renowned neurologist Jack Jhamandas has been researching Alzheimer’s disease for more than 20 years and is on the edge of a promising new drug candidate with the potential to not only prevent, but reverse the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

In collaboration with Dr. Lorne Tyrell, Founding Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology and University of Alberta Professor, as well as Nobel Laureate Sir Michael Houghton, Jhamandas has been advancing the development of this disease to where it is today — entering the final phases before beginning human clinical trials. 

“The development of novel and effective disease modifying therapies for Alzheimer’s disease is one of the greatest scientific challenges of our time. We are hopeful that we are on to something very promising here, and we want to convey that hope to people who carry the burden of this condition,” says Dr. Jhamandas.

Don’s gift is transformational — but it is only partway to the $10 million required to bring the drug to human clinical trials. President and CEO of the University Hospital Foundation Dr. Jodi Abbott urges the public to participate now and continue the critical momentum that Don has started. 

“The generous gift Don Hunter has made to the University Hospital Foundation is building the bridge to bring potentially world-changing Alzheimer’s treatment to my family and friends and yours. We urge the public to match Don’s gift and join us in finishing that bridge,” says Dr. Abbott. “It takes support from as small as $100, to the size of Don’s contribution to fuel the innovative, life-altering treatments and cures needed to end diseases like Alzheimer’s once and for all. This is an opportunity to tackle a significant health challenge and make a difference that will be felt around the globe and in the lives of millions of people.”

More information and donations can be made through the University Hospital Foundation’s website, or by contacting Director of Philanthropy Caroline Thompson at 780-900-3084 or

About the University Hospital Foundation:

The University Hospital Foundation raises funds to advance patient care, research and innovation at the University of Alberta Hospital, the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and the Kaye Edmonton Clinic, as well as research at the University of Alberta and care in the community through Alberta Health Services (AHS). Using innovative approaches to philanthropy, including new partnerships and bold ideas to bring the right people, resources and solutions together, we are improving health, reducing the devastating impact of disease and addressing the inequitable health challenges faced by members of diverse cultures.

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