Ludwig Cancer Research, founded by the late American shipping magnate Daniel Ludwig, has donated $540 million to six facilities in the USA.

The funds will be divided equally among the Ludwig Centers already established in 2006 at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Stanford University and the University of Chicago. The gift brings the Ludwig total funding at these institutions to $900 million and $2.5 billion overall.

Ed McDermott, Ludwig trustee and president, said that more must be done in terms of funding to ensure continued progress "in an era of shrinking global resources for research". He added that "providing reliable, long-term support to scientists fosters high impact, innovative research and must remain a priority for the cancer community".

The cash, which ranks among the largest private philanthropic gifts to cancer research, will help the institutions build on "groundbreaking discoveries" that initial funding to the six centres has already yielded, Ludwig noted. It  notes that the money has "paved the way for the first comprehensive maps of the genomic landscapes of cancers, transformative 'smart drugs' and immunotherapy treatments".

Bert Vogelstein, co-director at the John Hopkins Ludwig Center, said the additional funding will allow the institutions to "expand and amplify their efforts in perpetuity". He added that "sustained support enables the centres to continue training the best and the brightest of the next generation of scientists” and the money "allows them to expedite research and take risks – the only way to make truly breakthrough discoveries".