Publish Date: 
Tuesday, October 10, 2023 - 17:45

We would like to pay tribute to philanthropist Charles ‘Chuck’ Feeney, who was instrumental in supporting the establishment of major research institutes around South East Queensland – including Australia’s Translational Research Institute (TRI).

Mr Feeney and his wife Helga donated more than $8 billion through The Atlantic Philanthropies to causes around the world as part of their ‘Giving While Living’ philosophy, with $549 million donated to Australian research institutions.

Acting TRI Chief Executive Officer A/Prof Helen Benham said more than $350 million was donated to Queensland and the $50 million gifted to help establish TRI at that time represented the largest sum from a non-government source to a single Australian medical research institute.

“There is no doubt the support of The Atlantic Philanthropies was instrumental in the establishment of TRI and now 11 years on, so much progress has been made here at the interface of science, medicine and industry,” she said.

“He encouraged medical researchers to collaborate across international lines with the ultimate goal of generating sustainable scientific progress and improving healthcare for more disadvantaged and vulnerable people. What a worthwhile and wonderful legacy.”

Investments were made to support UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) and Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) as well for QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation.

UQ bestowed its highest honour, an Honorary Doctorate, upon Chuck and Helga Feeney, in recognition of their inspiring contributions to research and innovation in Australia and globally.

Mr Feeney enlisted in the US Air Force in 1948, later earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in hotel management, travelled extensively in Europe and eventually co-founded a duty-free business selling luxury goods to tourists. Duty Free Shoppers became the world’s largest luxury goods retailer.

The Atlantic Foundation, incorporated in Bermuda, was established in 1982. The Feeney family transferred all business assets to the foundation two years later.

The Atlantic Philanthropies made grants totalling more than $8 billion, much of it anonymously, to causes on five continents.

Mr Feeney refused to have his name on any of the approximately 200 buildings his foundation helped to fund. He was named a Queensland Great in 2019.

Mr Feeney died peacefully on October 9 in San Francisco. He was 92.