The has announced that its founder, Fred Kavli, 86, died on Thursday, succumbing to complications due to surgeries related to cholangiocarcinoma, a rare form of cancer.
The philanthropist, physicist, entrepreneur, business leader, and innovator established the foundation to advance science for the benefit of humanity. Born and raised in Norway, Kavli created the foundation in 2000 after divesting his interests in Kavlico Corporation, which he operated as the company’s sole shareholder and which became one of the world's largest suppliers of sensors for aeronautic, automotive, and industrial applications. According to its most recent 990-PF, the foundation held assets in excess of $152 million at the end of 2011.
Based in Oxnard, California, the foundation has established a global network of basic research institutes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics and supported an international program of conferences, symposia, endowed professorships, and other activities. The foundation also has endowed seven university professorial chairs, supports initiatives to engage the public in science as well as those who help scientists become better communicators, and encourages excellence in science journalism.
In 2008, the foundation, in partnership with the the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, launched a series of prizes to recognize scientists for their seminal advances in astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience. Consisting of a scroll, a gold medal, and a cash award of $1 million, a Kavli Prize in each of these areas is presented every two years by the King of Norway in a ceremony in Oslo. In acknowledgement of their achievements and recognition of the importance of science in achieving a better and more prosperous society, Kavli Prize laureates from the U.S. have routinely been invited to meet the president of the United States in the Oval Office.
In addition to supporting scientific research and education, Kavli's philanthropic activities included the Fred Kavli Theatre for Performing Arts at the Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks, as well as other projects.
"We will forever be grateful to Fred Kavli — someone who, with the foundation, invested his heart and soul into ensuring that science will make this a better world for future generations," said Kavli Foundation president Robert W. Conn. "And we will carry forward this mission with the same commitment and dedication that he gave to science and his life."