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JK Rowling donates $15.4 million for MS center

- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 31, 2010

LONDON (AP) - Author J.K. Rowling has given $15.4 million to set up a center to research multiple sclerosis, the disease that killed her mother.

The creator of boy wizard Harry Potter said Tuesday that the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, named after her mother, will be based at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. It will also study other degenerative neurological conditions, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Rowling said she hopes the clinic will become "a world center for excellence in the field of regenerative neurology."

The university said Rowling's gift is the largest single donation it has received.

Rowling is a longtime resident of the Scottish capital, and began writing the Harry Potter books when she was a cash-strapped single mother in the city.

"Edinburgh has given me so very much that I have been looking for a way to give something meaningful back to the city for a long time," Rowling said in a statement.

"I cannot think of anything more important, or of more lasting value, than to help the university attract world-class minds in the field of neuroregeneration, to build on its long and illustrious history of medical research and, ultimately, to seek a cure for a very Scottish disease."

Multiple sclerosis affects about 100,000 people in Britain, and Scotland has one of the world's highest rates of the disease. Its causes are not fully understood, although both genetics and environmental factors are thought to play a part.

Rowling's mother died from complications related to MS in 1990, before the writer struck fame with her novels about the orphaned wizard. She has said her mother's death influenced one of the series' main themes _ a child dealing with loss.

Rowling recently turned 45, the age her mother was when she died.

"I know that she would rather have had her name on this clinic than on any statue, flower garden or commemorative plaque, so this donation is on her behalf, too; and in gratitude for everything she gave me in her far-too-short life," Rowling said.

The seven Harry Potter books have sold more than 400 million copies and spawned a hit movie franchise and a theme park. Forbes magazine has ranked Rowling as one of the richest women in Britain, with an estimated wealth of $1 billion.

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