Tulane Professor Receives Funding for Alzheimer’s Research

Tulane recently released information about one of their associate professors in the school of medicine receiving substantial funding to continue important research for Alzheimer’s.  You can read the original article here.  

There are 5.7 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease, and the dreaded disease has caused more deaths than both breast and prostate cancer combined.  Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.  Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. The greatest known risk factor is increasing age, and the majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older. But Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age. Approximately 200,000 Americans under the age of 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease (also known as early-onset Alzheimer’s).  Alzheimer’s worsens over time. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives four to eight years after diagnosis, but can live as long as 20 years, depending on other factors.  Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available and research continues. Although current Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Today, there is a worldwide effort under way to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and prevent it from developing.

As if the diagnosis isn’t bad enough, Alzheimer’s and dementia have shown to have links to other serious diseases like diabetes, many times coexisting and making it difficult for patients to be treated appropriately.  When diabetes is not controlled, too much sugar remains in the blood. Over time, this can damage organs, including the brain. Scientists are finding more evidence that could link Type 2 diabetes with Alzheimer’s disease. Several research studies following large groups over many years suggest that adults with Type diabetes have a higher risk of later developing Alzheimer’s.  With the high rate of occurrence of diabetes, Alzheimer’s and dementia in the US, as well as the world, finding a cure is more paramount than ever.

Andrea Zsombok, an associate professor of physiology in the Tulane University School of Medicine and member of the Tulane Brain Institute Executive Committee, recently received a $334,000 supplement to her 2014 NationalInstitutes of Health (NIH) grant totaling $1.6 million, that supports research into the brain’s role in diabetes. The additional funds will supplement studies that are extensions of the original award.  The goal of these studies is identifying the activity of liver-specific neurons in a model of Alzheimer’s disease. Zsombok and her team members – LucieDesmoulins, Hong Gao and Adrien Molinas, Sierra Butcher and Cassidy Werner –are studying the autonomic nervous system, which mainly acts unconsciously and regulates bodily function. It also contributes to the regulation of systemic sugar levels. Research has suggested there is a high risk of developing diabetes if autonomic dysfunction is present.  The overall goals of the initial award are to identifyneurons, which are part of the brain-liver pathway, determine their activity inhealthy and diabetic conditions, and investigate the reason for their improperfunction during diabetes.  Without a full understanding of the mechanismscontrolling the brain-liver pathway, which is essential for the maintenance ofglucose levels, there is a barrier to understand the brain control of sugarlevels.

In a statement Zsombok said, “The knowledge gained from the studies may lead to new strategies to improve glucose homeostasis before the full development of Alzheimer’s disease as well as a better understanding of how disruption of the central control of glucose homeostasis exacerbates the disease pathology. Our publication shows that in a diabetic condition the neurons, which are part of the brain-liver pathway, are more active than in a normal condition. So, likely there are differences in the brain of a person with diabetes compared to a healthy person in a context of the brain-liver pathway.”

Zsombok described this process similar to when someone encounters a stressful experience, such as being scared. The body activates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which leads to a domino effect of responses, including the release of glucose. This process would provide a healthy individual enough energy to deal with the stressful situation but, in many conditions like diabetes or hypertension, these people have already reached a higher activity level of the SNS, which contributes to the higher sugar levels. One of the goals of Zsombok’s research is to find a way to decrease the SNS activity that could be helpful with regulating glucose.

To learn more aboutAlzheimer’s research, visit https://www.alz.org/. For more articles similar to this one, click here.

Local Entrepreneur Benny Cenac Donates To The Oh La La Theater Series to Nicholls State

The “Oh Là Là” theater series will behosted by Nicholls this school yearthanks to private donor and philanthropist Arlen Benny Cenac, Jr.  Cenachas always been a major proponent for the arts and education and jumped at theopportunity to help make that a reality for his community.  

The donations went toward several funds and projects necessary to make the show a reality, including renovations on the Mary and Al Danos Theater totaling upwards of $9.6 Million.  According to Dr. Bruce Murphy, Nicholls President, the name Oh Là Là is an homage to Al Danos, who enjoyed conversing in French. The Danos family, whose parents donated $1 million toward the theater’s renovation, released a statement in support of Nicholls’ upcoming series.  “Mom and Dad would have loved this and attended every show,” The Danos family said. “Oh Là Là is exactly what Dad had in mind when he started raising money for the theater.”

In August the university hosted donors, lifetime alumni members and Nicholls Foundation board members at the newly renovated theater for a special preview and an opportunity to purchase season tickets, and spectators were blown away by its beauty, functionality and charm. Monique Crochet, Nicholls’ acting director of advancement, said the upgrades to the Danos Theater were the cornerstone and missing piece that made the theater series possible. Crochet said the improved theater allows Nicholls to bring high-quality, high-demand shows to Thibodaux, enriching the community by increasing exposure to the arts.  “We noticed other universities were doing it. We thought it would be a great idea to bring this to our local area,” Crochet said. She said revenues from sponsorships and ticket sales will go toward maintenance of the theater and the purchasing of future shows.

The first show featured at “Oh Là Là” was back in September. Touring for over seven years and featuring six vocalists and dancers, the Frankie Valli tribute show “Let’s Hang On!” entails a live band that performs all the hits from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” “December,” “Who Loves You” and “My Eyes Adored You,” among others.

In November, a Christmas show by the Dutton Experience, a 15-member family band that has been playing together since 1991, made its debut bringing a variety of genres from bluegrass to classical music to the Danos Theater.  The next act to be featured will be the New Orleans-based Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra on Feb. 15. Formed the very same year as the Dutton Experience, the LPO is the oldest full-time musician-governed and collaboratively-operated professional symphony in the nation. After that in March, the acrobat troupe The Golden Dragon Acrobats will bring their aerial excellence to Thibodaux.  This 50 year old Chinese act is recognized as the premier Chinese acrobatic company in the United States, according to Nicholls’ press release announcing the shows.

“Oh Là Là” finishes by  featuring the timeless songs of the Fab Four. A Grammy-nominated Beatles tribute band featuring four musicians handpicked by George Harrison’s sister will feature vintage instruments and iconic costumes from the Beatles’ collection.  Crochet said she thinks the wide range of music brings a good diversity of performances, and she expects Nicholls to find different acts in the future. She said the university will start working on its booking efforts for the 2018-19 season in January when acts start revealing their schedules. Dr. Murphy attributed “Oh Là Là” as an important step toward successfully reaching the university’s goals.  “Here at Nicholls, our vision is to be the intellectual, economic and cultural heart of the Bayou Region. The diversity of world-renowned acts coming to our campus as part of the Oh Là Là series fits perfectly with what we’re trying to accomplish,” Murphy said.

Season tickets are now available to purchase. To purchase tickets or become a sponsor, call Tammy Toups at (985) 448-4134 or email [email protected]

For more on Oh La La, click here.

Nicholls Hosts Journalist Joseph Galloway

Nicholls State University has announced on its website that it will be hosting a lecture with award-winning correspondent, Bronze Star recipient and best-selling author Joseph Galloway on campus later this month.  Nicholls frequently hosts poets, authors, presenters and experts in order to better serve and educate not only its students and staff but the public. However, rarely has Nicholls seen such a decorated and awarded hero and journalist as Galloway.

Galloway plans to elaborate on his experiences as a civilian journalist during the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War, as well as the ethical dilemmas of being involved in a war. This topic is sure to generate many questions from the audience but don’t fret, Galloway has agreed to engage in a question-and-answer session will follow his presentation.

Also a Southerner, he is a native of Refugio, Texas, Galloway is an award-winning correspondent, columnist and best-selling author. He spent much of his five decades as a reporter with United Press International, reporting from all over the world such as Kansas City, Tokyo, Vietnam, Jakarta, New Delhi, Singapore, Moscow and Los Angeles.

Galloway knows first hand the danger and necessity of war journalism and is prepared to describe his experiences in this one of a kind question/answer format.  The Ethical Journalism Network, which aims to strengthen the capacity of media professionals to report in an accurate, fair and humane way, discusses these subjects in length, arguing that in times of war people need more access to reliable information. It discusses in detail not only the ethical dilemma of War Journalists, but also the grave importance of their job.  It states that since the “communications revolution, the world has become more connected and people are closer to the frontlines than they have ever been, but they struggle to find unbiased and reliable information when the news agenda is crowded out by intolerance and war-mongering.

Reporting conflict provides the greatest ethical challenge to journalists. It is not easy to maintain the highest professional standards and there are many shocking examples of media failure and even complicity in acts of violence and inhumanity as shown by the genocide in Rwanda, war in the Balkans and grotesque propaganda around the Ukraine conflict.

Nevertheless, journalists must do what they can to avoid hate speech and inflammatory coverage. But how is that done in the heat of battle? Quality journalism is vital for people to:

-Better understand the roots and reality of conflict;
-Create an information space for dialogue;
-Provide context and analysis that may open the door to reconciliation and peace.

Without accurate and sensitive reporting that provides insights into the mindsets of all those involved, people cannot make judgements and potentially influence the course of events by giving or withholding their support for the conflict.

But in times of war, all sides engaged in conflict do so without any sense of balance – no one says the other side probably believes their cause is just, or acknowledges the bravery of enemy soldiers. They abandon notions of fairness and objectivity and use propaganda and lies to demonise the enemy, its leadership and its people. Journalists have a responsibility to counter this threat.”

Nicholls State immediately recognized the unique information a person like Galloway would have to share with others and jumped on the opportunity to have him speak.  Dr. James Stewart, Nicholls mass communication department head said, “I’ve read his book, and I’m a big fan of the book, so for me it will be great to meet him. But this is also an excellent opportunity for our students to hear directly from someone who has gone through that experience. This event is an effort of our students, our Veterans and our mass communication department. It’s really great when various segments of the Nicholls community can come together to make something like this happen.”  Nicholls loves an opportunity to collaborate between student organizations.

One leader of a student organization, Gilberto Burbante, coordinator for veterans services at Nicholls stated “During my time with the military, I worked with embedded reporters and I couldn’t imagine those reporters putting down their cameras or notepads and picking up a rifle to survive.  I’m excited to have him at Nicholls and to hear him share his experiences.” He is just one among many students excited for this special glimpse into the journalistic world.

Galloway and Lt. Gen. Harold Moore together co-authored the 1992 best-seller, “We Were Soldiers Once…And Young.” The book was the basis for the 2002 film, “We Were Soldiers.” This compelling drama tells the true tale of the first major battle between United States and North Vietnamese. It is a film about loyalty among soldiers, uncommon valor and nobility under fire, and the heroism and sacrifice of men and women both home and abroad. The movie has been described as one of the most brutally violent movies ever released, with up-close, graphic, and relentless violence and the deaths of many characters.  It could be said that his is the most realistic representation of war that has ever been put to film but, of course, this film is not suitable for young children. If you or someone you know is interested in journalism or, more specifically, war journalism, this film is very highly recommended.

Galloway received a Bronze Star in 1998 to recognize his heroic actions during the 1965 Battle of la Drang. The Bronze Star award is a United States decoration awarded only to members of the United States Armed Forces for either heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone.Covering the Vietnam War as a journalist, Galloway bravely risked his own safety to assist wounded soldiers. Galloway has witnessed things most of us could never dream of.  By authoring his books and helping with the film versions, he hopes to give the general public a more visual representation of what it means to engage in war from several perspectives.

Together, Moore and Galloway wrote a sequel in 2008 titled “We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam.” In this novel, they return to Vietnam’s Ia Drang Valley more than forty years after the battle they recalled in their #1 New York Times bestseller We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young. Renewing their relationships with ten American veterans of the fabled conflict—and with former adversaries—the authors explore how the war changed them all, as well as their two countries. We Are Soldiers Still is an emotional journey back to hallowed ground, putting a human face on warfare as the authors reflect on war’s devastating cost.

Galloway has been a recipient of several prestigious awards for his bravery, character, and clout, including the National Magazine Award in 1991, the New Media Award of the National VFW in 1992, the Robert Denig Award for Exceptional Service of the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Assn. in 2002 and the Tex McCrary Award of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society in 1995.  These, among others, are even more proof of Galloway’s brave choices in the face of unthinkable violence and death.

Besides authoring and partnering with filmmakers, Galloway has since worked as a special consultant for the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Vietnam War 50th anniversary Commemoration project and served as a consultant on Ken Burns’ 2017 documentary on the Vietnam War.

This event is open to the public and is no cost.  It will be at 1 p.m. on Nov. 30 in the Mary and Al Danos Theater. A reception with hors-d’oeuvres and drinks will be held before the event.

Sponsors include several student organizations on campus such as the Nicholls Veterans Organization, Student Government Association and Student Programming Association.

For more information on the Nicholls State event, click here.  For more general education news, click here.


Nicholls State Online English Degree Takes Top Rank

Nicholls State University’s online English degree has been ranked one of the most affordable by an online education resource.

Nicholls degree was ranked No. 5 by SR Education Group, who considered the tuition rates of every accredited college offering fully online degrees to determine and rank the most affordable options. The results were published on onlineu.org. The 2019 rankings looked at 861 schools across the nation to find schools committed to providing the most economical options for students. Nicholls was the only school in Louisiana to be ranked in the top 25.

“I think this new ranking indicates that we have an outstanding academic program that is also affordable,” said Dr. Ellen Barker, department of language and literature chair. “We have remained in the top seven, often in first and second place, for affordability in the last few years, so it is rewarding to maintain that ranking in this category.”

Founded in 2004 and headquartered in Washington, SR Education Group provides online resources to help prospective college students find the education that best suits their budget and career aspirations. The group provides over $250,000 annually in scholarships.

Online courses have expanded rapidly and have the potential to extend further the educational opportunities of many students, particularly those least well-served by traditional educational institutions. However, in their current design, online courses are difficult, especially for the students who are least prepared. These students’ learning and persistence outcomes are worse when they take online courses than they would have been had these same students taken in-person courses. Continued improvement of online curricula and instruction can strengthen the quality of these courses and hence the educational opportunities for the most in-need populations.

Online courses offer the promise of access regardless of where students live or what time they can participate, potentially redefining educational opportunities for those least well-served in traditional classrooms. Moreover, online platforms offer the promise, through artificial intelligence, of providing the optimal course pacing and content to fit each student’s needs and thereby improve educational quality and learning. The latest “intelligent” tutoring systems, for example, not only assess students’ current weaknesses, but also diagnose why students make the specific errors. These systems then adjust instructional materials to meet students’ needs.

Yet today these promises are far from fully realized. The vast majority of online courses mirror face-to-face classrooms with professors rather using technology to better differentiate instruction across students. As one new study shows, online courses can improve access, yet they also are challenging, especially for the least well-prepared students. These students consistently perform worse in an online setting than they do in face-to-face classrooms; taking online courses increases their likelihood of dropping out and otherwise impedes progress through college.

Online college courses are rapidly growing. One out of three college students now takes at least one course online during their college career, and that share has increased threefold over the past decade. The potential for cost savings and the ease of scaling fuels ongoing investments in online education by both public and private institutions. Online courses have grown in the K-12 sector as well. Florida, for example, requires each high school student to take at least one online course before graduation and the Florida Virtual School offers over 150 classes to students across the state. An estimated 1.5 million K-12 students participated in some online learning in 2010, and online learning enrollments are projected to grow in future years.

Non-selective and for-profit higher education institutions have expanded online course offerings particularly quickly. These institutions serve a majority of college-aged students, and these students typically have weaker academic preparation and fewer economic resources than students at other more selective colleges and universities. As such, their ability to provide useful course work, engage students, and build the skills necessary for economic success is particularly important. Their use of online coursework is promising to the extent that it can reach the most students in need and serve them well.

While online course-taking is both prevalent and growing, especially in non-selective higher education institutions, relatively little evidence has examined how taking a course online instead of in person affects student success in college. A new study is the first of which to provide evidence on the effects of online courses at-scale at non-selective four-year colleges. It is also the first to assess the effects of online course taking at for-profit institutions. Nearly 2.4 million undergraduate students (full-time equivalent) enrolled at for-profit institutions during the 2011-12 academic year, and the sector granted approximately 18 percent of all associate degrees.

A new study uses data from DeVry University, a large for-profit college with an undergraduate enrollment of more than 100,000 students, 80 percent of whom are seeking a bachelor’s degree. The average DeVry student takes two-thirds of her courses online. The remaining one-third of courses meet in conventional in-person classes held at one of DeVry’s 102 physical campuses. The data include over 230,000 students enrolled in 168,000 sections of more than 750 different courses.

DeVry University’s approach to online education makes it particularly well suited for estimating the effects of taking online courses. Each DeVry course is offered both online and in-person, and each student enrolls in either an online section or an in-person section. Online and in-person sections are identical in most ways: both follow the same syllabus and use the same textbook; class sizes are approximately the same; both use the same assignments, quizzes, tests, and grading rubrics. Many professors teach both online and in-person courses. The contrast between online and in-person sections is primarily the mode of communication. In online sections, all interaction—lecturing, class discussion, group projects—occurs in online discussion boards, and much of the professor’s “lecturing” role is replaced with standardized videos. In online sections, participation is often asynchronous while in-person sections meet on campus at scheduled times. In short, DeVry online classes attempt to replicate traditional in-person classes, except that student-student and student-professor interactions are virtual and asynchronous.

Taking a course online, instead of in person, increases the probability that a student will drop out of school. In the semester after taking an online course, students are about 9 percentage points less likely to remain enrolled. This reduction is relative to an average of 88 percent of students remaining enrolled in the following term. Moreover, taking a course online reduces the number of credits that students who do reenroll take in future semesters. While this setting is quite different, we can compare the effects on online course taking to other estimates of effects of on college persistence. For example, the literature on financial aid often finds that $1000 in financial aid increases persistence rates by about three percentage points and college mentorship increases persistence rates by five percentage points.

The negative effects of online course taking are concentrated in the lowest performing students. As shown in Figure 2, for students with below median prior GPA, the online classes reduce grades by 0.5 points or more, while for students with prior GPA in the top three deciles we estimate the effect as much smaller and, in fact, we cannot tell whether there is negative effect at all for this higher-achieving group. Thus, while online courses may have the potential to differentiate coursework to meet the needs of students with weaker incoming skills, current online courses, in fact, do an even worse job of meeting the needs of these students than do traditional in-person courses.

These analyses provide evidence that students in online courses perform substantially worse than students in traditional in-person courses and that experience in these online courses impact performance in future classes and their likelihood of dropping out of college as well. The negative effects of online course-taking are far stronger for students with lower prior GPA. The results are in line with prior studies of online education in other settings such as community colleges and highly competitive four-year institutions that also show that online courses yield worse average outcomes than in-person courses.

The current negative effect of online course taking relative to in-person course taking should not necessarily lead to the conclusion that online courses should be discouraged. On the contrary, online courses provide access to students who never would have the opportunity or inclination to take classes in-person.[11] As one indication, of the 5.8 million students taking online courses in the fall of 2014, 2.85 million took all of their courses online. Moreover, advances in AI offer hope that future online courses can respond to the needs of students, meeting them where they are in their learning and engaging them in higher education even better than in-person courses are currently able to do.  Nonetheless, the tremendous scale and consistently negative effects of current offerings points to the need to improve these courses, particularly for students most at risk of course failure and college dropout.

For more education news, click here.


SLCC and LUMCON Hold Open House

SLCC and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) recently held an Open House event at the Maritime and Corporate Training Center in Houma to celebrate its partnership.  SLCC administrators along with area dignitaries shared remarks and then enjoyed a delicious Boucherie.

The program was opened with a welcome by Mr. Anthony Baham of SLCC and was followed by local representatives Jerome Zeringue and Beryl Amedee, as well as Drs. Craig McClain, Kristine Strickland and Jermaine Ford, among others.

Mr. Walt Cenac with CENAC Marine Services was there to represent Mr. Arlen Benny Cenac, CEO of Cenac Marine Services, who In November 2017 dedicated a fully refurbished barge to South Louisiana Community College’s Maritime training program. Mr. Cenac and employees met with Captain Carl Moore of SLCC and discovered the need for updated equipment and have since made this need come to fruition.

The very first open enrollment class began in August. Depending on the size of the class, hands-on barge training can last approximately eight hours long. The goal of the South Louisiana Community College and their Maritime training program is to offer the class every two weeks, depending on instructor availability. They currently have two Cenac Boat Captains serving as tankerman instructors during their off time.  The Cenac instructors have been certified through the state of Louisiana to teach the course. It takes a total of 32 hours to complete the course. After completion of the course, they are required to complete basic firefighting training before they can become a certified tankerman.

Mr. Arlen Benny Cenac Jr. stated, “From the very start of this project I have been excited about what we can offer to the community and to those interested in becoming tankermen. My company and I are fortunate to have the opportunity to provide a hands on learning experience to many people for years to come.”

People interested in taking the class can register on site at 331 Dickson Road in Houma. The barge is also housed at this location. Captain Carl Moore, Assistant Dean of Marine Operations said, “The barge donated by Mr. Cenac and Cenac Marine services has been a game changer.  We’re excited to be able to offer hands on, real life experience while under the supervision of an instructor. This will help everyone in a way we just haven’t been able to in the past.”

To learn more about South Louisiana Community College and its Maritime training offerings, please visit, http://www.solacc.edu. More information on this inaugural class was featured on Workboat’s website.  To read about the barge dedication that took place in 2017 please see this article.

For more articles similar to this one, click here.

Microsoft Founder Paul Allen Leaves Legacy

Paul Allen, one of the world’s most brilliant minds, died on Monday, October 15, 2018. According to the statement released by his representatives, the 65-year-old succumbed to complications related to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that originates in the lymphatic system. Though best known as the co-founder of Microsoft, the company that revolutionized the personal computing industry, Allen’s legacy extends beyond technology to science, sports, and even music.

Allen and Bill Gates, Microsoft’s other co-founder, met at Lakeside School, a private middle and high school, in Seattle, Washington. Though Gates was two years Allen’s junior, the two bonded over their passion for computers. Upon graduating, Allen went to Washington State University to pursue a degree in computer science, but dropped out after two years and joined Honeywell in Boston, MA as a programmer.

In early 1975, Allen saw the Altair 8800 featured on the cover of Popular Electronics magazine. Unlike other computers, which were built for corporations, this model was designed to appeal to individual consumers. Realizing the potential of software, he convinced Gates, then a sophomore at Harvard University, to drop out and join him to start what he called Micro-Soft. After creating software to improve the performance of the Altair 8800, the pair went on to design software for the Apple II and Radio Shack’s TRS-80. The experience eventually led to the development of the Microsoft MS-DOS operating system, which currently boasts over 400 million users worldwide.

In 1983, after being diagnosed with Stage 1-A Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Allen decided to leave the company to focus on his health. However, he retained his share of Microsoft, which went on to become one of the world’s biggest technology companies, turning him and Gates, who until recently was the world’s richest man, into billionaires.

While Allen’s cancer was in remission by 1986, he never returned to the company. Instead, he spent the rest of his life donating funds to worthwhile causes and pursuing his varied interests, which ranged from space exploration to sports to music.

The numerous beneficiaries of his generosity include the Allen Institute of Brain Science, which focuses on the human brain and artificial intelligence research, and the Allen Institute for Cell Science, which investigates cures for various diseases. The philanthropist also donated funds to conduct a census to highlight the declining population of African elephants and pledged $100 million to battle Ebola in Nigeria. Closer to home, his company Vulcan Investments partnered with the US Department of Transportation to launch the Smart City Challenge – an attempt to lower greenhouse gases in American cities and towns. Through his film company, Vulcan Productions, Allen funded several award-winning documentaries to call attention to global issues like illegal ivory trade and ocean pollution.

An avid basketball fan, Allen purchased the Portland Trailblazers in 1988. Under his leadership, the team made it to the NBA Finals twice, reached the Western Conference Finals three additional times, and completed a string of 21 seasons with a postseason appearance. In 1996, Allen purchased the Seattle Seahawks to prevent them from moving to Southern California. His support has helped transform the team to one of the best in the National Football League.

The business magnate was also very passionate about music. A fan of American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter Jimi Hendrix since the age of 16, Allen not only mastered the electric guitar but also recorded an album with his band, the Underthinkers, in 2013. His affinity for Hendrix and rock music also led to the establishment of the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle. Allen also loved to sail and owned some of the world’s biggest yachts, including the 414-foot (126m) Octopus. It was large enough to accommodate two helicopters, a submarine, a swimming pool, a basketball court, and, of course, a full-size recording studio where the entrepreneur could unleash his inner Hendrix.

Unfortunately, Allen was diagnosed with the more aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, in 2009. However, he managed to keep the disease in check until October 1, 2018, when he revealed to the world that the cancer had returned. While the billionaire was optimistic he would beat it yet again, the affliction had advanced too far, and he passed away just two weeks after the announcement. Though the philanthropist, who donated over $2 billion to charitable causes over his lifetime, is gone, he will continue to make an impact on the world through the Giving Pledge. The commitment, which Allen, along with 184 people from 22 countries, signed, was started by Bill Gates to get the world’s richest to donate a bulk of their wealth towards important causes.

As Allen succinctly put it, “As long as we all work together – with both urgency and determination – there are no limits to what we can achieve”

R.I.P Paul Allen
(January 21, 1953 – October 15, 2018)

For more information about Paul Allen’s philanthropies, click here.  More other philanthropist news, click here.