Miuccia Prada

MILAN — Prada Group on Thursday revealed it is supporting the recently created Fondazione Gianni Bonadonna, named after the late oncologist, to support innovative cancer treatments and research projects.

“I think that supporting those who give their life to research and treatment of cancer, the disease of our time, is something we owe to the society, to ensure that the success of treatments continue to improve, not only for the present day, but also — and most importantly — for future generations,” said Miuccia Prada. “In addition, this also provides an opportunity to increase my involvement in exploring the role of science in contemporary society in an interdisciplinary context.”

“We are going through a crisis of all social models on which we have based the past 75 years, from capitalism to socialism and innovation implies increased responsibility of individuals and of institutions,” said Carlo Mazzi, chairman of the Prada Group, during a presentation at Fondazione Prada in Milan on Thursday. “Confidence is slim and companies are asked to be responsible, which translates into sustainability. This is not merely a financial initiative, it is a social one, it’s a real participation, not as a sponsorship. We actively participate to learn and understand. We can’t give scientific help, but we can help spread the knowledge, spur interest and communicate Fondazione Bonadonna’s progress.” Mazzi said Fondazione Prada has always felt the responsibility to promote “activities with social meaning” and that the goal was always to expand beyond art to philosophy and science, among other disciplines. Mazzi noted that Prada has for two years now been collaborating with Yale School of Management and Politecnico di Milano School of Management to spark cultural conversations on innovation and sustainability.

Mazzi declined to provide the group’s financial investment in the project, saying that under the initial five-year commitment, Prada hopes to support multidisciplinary teams of doctors and researchers dedicated to studying and developing new treatments for cancer patients, also involving industry and public and private investors. It will also develop fellowship programs for young oncologists in partnership with universities across the world, hospitals and leading research centers.

Luca Gianni, president of the Fondazione Gianni Bonadonna, defined the oncologist as “perhaps the greatest doctor of the last century in Italy, and his therapies have given an enormous contribution. Our goal is to further innovate and train additional doctors. We as scientists are not as bubbly as Prada, which will add some salt and pepper to us, helping us get some alternative attention,” Gianni said to a round of chuckles.

Larry Norton, senior vice president at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, defined Bonadonna “a champion of conceptual thinking, a giant in medicine,” and sharing personal moments with the doctor, pointed to his and the doctor’s “breadth of conversations from art and music to culture and history.” Finding it fitting for the presentation to be held at Fondazione Prada, he said that “artists and scientists have always tried to address the same questions, only they didn’t know it,” citing as an example Renaissance artists studying the perspective and the development of physics. “It is very important now for an artist to talk with scientists.”

Bonadonna, after a medical and surgery degree obtained in 1959 at the University of Milan and an experience in the U.S., worked at the National Cancer Institute of Milan and was a medicine pioneer thanks to its Hodgkin’s disease cures and innovative therapies against cancer.