Edward Meyer, Weill Cornell Medicine Board Member and Benefactor, Dies at 96

A woman and a man, wife and husband, pose for a formal portrait.

Edward H. Meyer, member of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Board of Fellows and devoted benefactor, died April 11 in New York, at age 96.

A Cornell University alumnus, Meyer ’49, along with his beloved wife Sandra, was a generous and committed champion of Weill Cornell Medicine, with an enduring passion for medical research and philanthropy. Elected to the board in 2014, he served as a member of the Clinical Affairs/Physician Organization Committee, the External Relations Committee and the Committee on Research and Entrepreneurship.

“Ed’s enthusiasm and bountiful altruism have made an indelible mark on our institution,” said Jessica M. Bibliowicz, chair of the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Fellows. “With his cherished wife Sandy, he believed in the transformative nature of investing in research. He will be remembered for his passion for medicine, and his commitment to finding a cure for cancer and improving the lives of those living with the disease. We will think of Ed fondly and he will be missed by all who knew him.”

Group photo of the Meyers and Weill Cornell Medicine leaders.

Ed and Sandy Meyer, and their son Tony Meyer, at the 2014 announcement of their $75 million gift that established the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine. Also pictured are former Weill Cornell Medicine Dean Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher and former Meyer Director Dr. Lewis Cantley. Credit: Carlos Rene Perez

Meyer’s dedication to advancing cancer research epitomizes his enduring legacy. After losing numerous friends and family to the disease, the Meyers in 2014 established the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine with a transformative $75 million gift, one of the largest single gifts in the institution’s history. The center’s focus is to translate groundbreaking discoveries on the underlying causes of cancer into cutting-edge treatments and personalized therapies to improve patient outcomes.

With close to 350 core members, including basic scientists, surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, pathologists and other clinicians, the Meyer Cancer Center takes a multidisciplinary approach to cancer research and care, harnessing the power of collaboration institution wide. The center, under Meyer Director Dr. Jedd Wolchok, has also sought to expand the exemplary care delivered at its flagship Upper East Side Manhattan location to patients across the New York metropolitan area, broadening the reach of innovative health care to diverse patient populations. This outstanding care is paired with community outreach to directly and equitably reduce the cancer burden in Brooklyn and Queens.

In 2015, Ed and Sandy endowed the Sandra and Edward Meyer Professor of Cancer Research, currently held by Dr. Silvia Formenti, chair of radiation oncology, to further support the institution’s cancer research goals.

Three men pose for a photo at an event.

Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Fellows members Ed Meyer, Robert Belfer, center, and the late Robert Appel at the 2018 Appel Alzheimer's Disease Research Institute Symposium. Credit: StudioBrooke

“Ed’s ongoing dedication to Weill Cornell Medicine and our mission to advance cancer research and care was remarkable,” said Dr. Francis Lee, interim dean of Weill Cornell Medicine and interim provost for medical affairs of Cornell University. “His generosity in establishing the Meyer Cancer Center helped move our institution forward as a leader in cancer innovation, attracting some of the brightest minds in medicine. We will forever have immense gratitude for his and Sandy’s lasting support.”

During his undergraduate studies at Cornell, Meyer took a two-year hiatus to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. In 1949, he earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the College of Arts and Sciences and the ILR School.

After the 2011 formation of Cornell’s universitywide Department of Economics, which merged the economics departments in the College of Arts and Sciences and ILR School, Meyer gave a $4 million gift to establish the Edward H. Meyer Professorship of Economics. The professorship endowed a critical senior faculty position, enabling the department in 2014 to recruit renowned economist Professor Marco Battaglini.

A husband and his wife on the Cornell Unviersity Ithaca campus

Ed and Sandy Meyer at their Foremost Benefactors ceremony in 2014. Credit: University Photography.

In 2014, the Cornell Board of Trustees and then-president Dr. David J. Skorton named Ed and Sandy Meyer among the Foremost Benefactors and Builders of Cornell for their extraordinary leadership and philanthropic support of the university’s mission. This honor acknowledged the Meyers’ formative role in the future of the university.

Three years later, Harman International Industries, Inc. honored Ed Meyer’s long-time service and valuable accomplishments on its board by establishing the Edward H. Meyer Entrepreneurial Scholarship at Cornell Tech. 

An astute businessman and giant in the advertising industry, Meyer served for more than 35 years as chairman and chief executive officer of Grey Global Group, among the world’s largest advertising and marketing agencies, then served as chairman of Ocean Road Advisors, Inc., an investment management company for the Meyer family.

With an energy and passion for life, he remained active on the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Fellows until his death. He was also a passionate supporter of the arts in New York City, including the Guggenheim Museum and Film at Lincoln Center.

He will be fondly remembered for his generosity, spirit and enduring love for his wife—his partner in philanthropy and in life. He is survived by his wife Sandy, children Meg and Tony, and grandchildren David, Katherine and William, Olivia and Victoria.

 A version of this story first appeared on the Cornell Chronicle.

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