Bulletin of Dental Education

Gift Will Fund Virtual Dental Care for Vulnerable Communities

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Edwin S.H. Leong, LL.D.

Philanthropist, businessman and University of British Columbia (UBC) alumnus Edwin S.H. Leong, LL.D., has made a $4 million gift supporting major COVID-19 projects at UBC, with $3 million going to the Faculty of Medicine to advance understanding on protection, prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and $1 million to the Faculty of Dentistry (UBC Dentistry) to develop and implement a technology platform for geriatric dentistry.

During the global pandemic, vulnerable communities—especially seniors—have suffered not just social isolation but challenges in accessing health resources such as dental care. Chris Wyatt, B.Sc., D.M.D., M.Sc., Dip. Pros., FRCD(C), Director of UBC Dentistry’s Geriatric Dentistry Program, knows this funding will significantly change dentistry for seniors in assisted living by supporting the provision of virtual dental care.

“Dr. Leong’s donation to UBC will create a paradigm shift using tele-dentistry to improve access to dental care for elderly long-term care residents. Under the COVID-19 pandemic, older adults have had their traditional access to a dentist compromised,” says Dr. Wyatt. “The UBC Geriatric Dentistry Program plans on implementing a Teledentistry program to explore early interventions and prevent the transfer of patients to hospital emergency, potentially saving lives and health care expenditures.”

Chris Wyatt, B.Sc., D.M.D.,
M.Sc., Dip. Pros., FRCD(C)

This $4 million gift supplements the already established Edwin S.H. Leong Healthy Aging Program—something UBC President Santa Ono, Ph.D., FRSC, FCAHS, finds characteristic of Dr. Leong’s philanthropy.

“This support from Dr. Leong exemplifies his deep concern and empathy for anyone isolated during the pandemic from the basics of medical and dental care—especially seniors,” says Dr. Ono. “I am very pleased, but not surprised, that Edwin would be at the forefront of such far-sighted philanthropy for our community.”

Earning his B.S. from UBC in 1973, Dr. Leong later founded the Hong Kong-based Tai Hung Fai Group property development firm in 1977. In 2013, he established the Tai Hung Fai Charitable Foundation, which serves disadvantaged elderly people and underprivileged children, and supports medical research, among other initiatives. Dr. Leong says he feels privileged to give back to the UBC community.

“I have fond memories of my time at UBC, especially commuting to class on the bus up to University Boulevard from Broadway. I remember often giving up my seat for an elderly commuter when they’d get on at a later stop,” says Dr. Leong. “It’s that memory that informs our foundation’s philanthropy during the pandemic—to make sure no one is left behind on our life journey together, especially with medical or dental care.”

The full article about Dr. Leong’s donation to UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry and Faculty of Medicine can be found here. UBC Geriatric Dentistry

Courtesy of Kathryn Booth, Communications Coordinator, University of British Columbia Faculty of Dentistry

Published on Oct. 13, 2021

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