This morning, luxury jewelry and watch brand Bulgari – owned by the LVMH Group – hosted a Webinar to discuss its new liaisons in the realm of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In its ongoing efforts to integrate social, cultural and environment issues into its overall corporate structure, Bulgari announces several important initiatives in support of the Rockefeller University research programs. Perhaps top among them is its establishment of The Bulgari Women & Science Fellowship Fund to assist women in research, and the Bulgari Clinical Fund to finance clinical testing of new therapies and vaccines.
According to Jean-Christophe Babin, in a private interview, the initiative and partnership with Rockefeller University follows suit with Bulgari’s efforts to help during COVID-19. After all, Bulgari was one of the first in the world to voluntarily and quickly transform its perfume manufacture into a sanitizing gel manufacture when hospitals in Europe were in need. In fact, the company donated more than 700,000 bottles of sanitizing gel to hospitals in Italy, Switzerland and elsewhere.
“The challenge for this century is to find a vaccine for COVID-19, and also to find a global platform against the virus, so that if another type of this virus hits, we have a base from which to start in order to come up with a proper vaccination,” says Babin. “Our donation cannot be compared to the big corporations that are donating, but we have a CSR commitment and are dedicated to helping in any way possible.”
Rockefeller University is one of the world’s leading biomedical research institutions, with more than 75 laboratories dedicated to scientific research. Since its inception, Rockefeller scientists have won Nobel Prizes, Lasker Awards and the National Medal of Science honors. The University’s Women & Science Initiative (begun in 1997 to promote careers of women scientists) was one of the first in the world to support women in science. Rockefeller University was one of the first to refocus attention on COVID-19 research to prevent and treat the disease.
In June, Bulgari announced its establishment of the Bulgari Virus Free Fund, a financial program to support innovative research. The first efforts announced were in support of the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and Rome’s Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases.
Through the Virus Free fund and the Bulgari Women & Science Fund, Bulgari will establish scholarships or fellowships for top women scientists from the Rockefeller University so they can continue their post-doctoral education and research. (Projects include development of neutralizing antibodies, the re-purposing of FDA-approved drugs to help fight the virus, and a saliva test to detect the presence of the virus.) Presently more than 75 women scientists are working on the various COVID-19 research projects in the labs.
Bulgari’s support of women graduate students and postdoctoral scholars is fitting, as the brand creates jewelry and watches for women, as well as for men. “We thought it would be great if we could support the research being conducted by women,” says Babin. “So, we are helping in two ways, the financing of tests and the issuing of scholarships to scientists who could go on to be Nobel scientists one day. It is naturally a long-term commitment on the part of Bulgari because research is a long-term commitment.”
The hope is that a Bulgari Clinical Fund will also be established for the development and testing of COVID-19 coronavirus strains, and later for other strains, or it can be applied more broadly to other disease research.