TAU Mourns Honorary Doctor, Longtime Friend Lily Safra

Safra founded Centers for Bioinformatics and Ethics at TAU, in memory of her husband
11 July 2022
Lily Safra receives an honorary doctorate at TAU in 2008.

Tel Aviv University expresses deep sadness at the death this week of Lily Safra, TAU honorary doctor, global philanthropist, patron of the arts, and advocate for the disadvantaged.


Lily Safra shared her commitment to caring for the less fortunate with her husband Edmond, banker and founder of the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation. Since 1999, she chaired the Foundation, which supports numerous educational, scientific, social and cultural causes in more than 40 countries.


Mrs. Safra has initiated several major projects at TAU, including the multidisciplinary Edmond J. Safra Center for Bioinformatics and Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.


Biomed Revolution

Launched in 2005, the Edmond J. Safra Bioinformatics Program has realized its founding mission of enhancing TAU’s role as a global leader in bioinformatics, a field that has been revolutionizing biomedical research. Now upgraded to a Center, the initiative develops novel drugs and technologies to alleviate suffering and save lives and ranks as one of the world’s top bioinformatics hubs.


In 2012, the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, with Lily Safra at its helm, inaugurated the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at TAU’s Buchmann Faculty of Law. In the decade since its establishment, the Center has positioned itself as a global focal point for ethics scholars.


More recently, the Foundation dedicated a floor in the new complex of the Buchmann Faculty of Law, including physical space to house the Ethics Center.


“Lily Safra has been a loyal and generous friend to TAU and Israel for decades, inextricably changing our campus and country for the better,” said TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat. “Her deep commitment to advancing society, academia and the arts commemorates Edmond's legacy in a profound and honorable way. We are grateful for Lily’s friendship and the Edmond J. Safra Foundation’s support. We will miss her dearly.”


Global Impact

In 2008, TAU awarded Safra an Honorary Doctorate for her monumental contributions to the University as well as her dedication to bridging social gaps and increasing access to higher education in Israel. The University also cited her extensive support of Jewish, educational, scientific, medical, cultural and humanitarian initiatives around the world.


Among her many philanthropic endeavors, Safra was co-founder and Honorary Chairwoman of the International Sephardic Education Foundation (ISEF), which has granted thousands of scholarships to Israelis from disadvantaged backgrounds. She was a trustee of New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Somerset House Arts Fund in London, and a member of the Chairman’s Council of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Safra also played a key role in establishing the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital at the Sheba Medical Center, in addition to supporting medical research and establishing cutting-edge healthcare facilities worldwide.


In addition to TAU, Safra held honorary degrees from universities in the US, UK and Israel, and was named Officier de la Légion d’Honneur by French President Nicholas Sarkozy in 2011, among many other accolades.




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