Salk Institute for Biological Studies announced today that it received a $5.5 million grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. The money will be used to launch a new center that will study diabetes and other metabolic diseases.

A billionaire New York hotel operator, Leona Helmsley was one of the most notorious figures of the 1980s era of wealthy excess. Her reputation for tyrannical outbursts toward her employees earned Helmsley the moniker “Queen of Mean.”

When Helmsley died in 2007 it was widely reported that she had left millions to her dogs. However, it was revealed today that the dogs got a total of $1 million while $136 million is going to charity. The Salk Institute was the only West Coast research institute that received money from the trust, according to Salk spokesman Mauricio Minotta.

The grant will fund a metabolic core facility, which will focus on developing new treatments for diabetes, cancer and aging, according to a news release issued by the institute.

“Given the fact that metabolism has clearly established itself as a common denominator in many research fields, I am very pleased that our scientists will have the opportunity to collaborate further and delve even deeper into this vitally important area of biological science,” said Salk President William R. Brody in the release.

DAVID WASHBURN

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