Utrecht University receives largest ever bequest

Former student leaves 1.2 million to University

Utrecht University was recently granted the largest ever single legacy in its history. Ms Johanna Alida van Leerzem left her entire estate, with a value of 1.2 million Euros, to the university where she studied medicine in the 1950s. The bequest will be added to the Utrecht University Fund, where it will be used to facilitate academic clinical research by young researchers in the field of internal medicine.

Annie van Leerzem en haar vader
Annie van Leerzem and her father

Medical student who never practised

Annie van Leerzem (1933) grew up in Rotterdam as the only child of Jacob van Leerzem and Petronella Naaktgeboren. Having completed her schooling at Rotterdam’s Gymnasium Erasmianum, she started studying medicine in Utrecht in the 1950s, moving with her parents to Bilderdijklaan in the village of Bilthoven. She graduated in 1959 from what was then the Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht. Although throughout her life Annie continued to be a registered general practitioner, she never in fact practised medicine, her time being fully taken up by caring for both her parents. They died, shortly after one another, in the late 1990s, by which time Annie herself was over sixty years of age. She remained single and led a sober, self-contained life until her own death. With this bequest, she is able to make a significant contribution to medical science, for which she had such a passion. 

Carlo Gaillard
Professor Dr. Carlo Gaillard

Van Leerzem Fund for Medical Research

Annie van Leerzem’s legacy will be managed in a trust fund in her name: the Van Leerzem Family Fund. The resources of this fund will be used to benefit patient-oriented academic research and (fundamental) research by the Internal Medicine and Dermatology division of the University Medical Center Utrecht. Former student Professor Dr. Carlo Gaillard, internal medicine and nephrology specialist and head of this division: “The Fund gives us the opportunity to stimulate original clinical academic research by promising young researchers in the longer term. This, alongside existing sources of finance, will be of considerable assistance to them. The fact that this finance comes from a former student of UU is all the more special.”

Bequeathing to science

The Utrecht University Fund contributes to the growth and flourishing of Utrecht University. The Fund sources and manages philanthropic donations to the university, research and education. Lodewijk Hijmans van den Bergh, chair of Utrecht University Fund: “We are very grateful for this exceptional gift. Private contributions to education and research in the sciences are becoming increasingly important in our rapidly changing society. More and more alumni, (former) staff or other involved parties are choosing to bequeath (part of) their legacy for a university-related purpose, in so doing contributing to finding sustainable solutions to the sizeable challenges we face, today and tomorrow.”

Collegekaart Van Leerzem
Annie van Leerzems student card