The Bertarelli Foundation was founded in 1998 by Maria Iris, Dona and Ernesto Bertarelli in memory of Fabio Bertarelli. For the first ten years it worked primarily to establish and develop healthcare projects which built upon the legacy of The Serono Foundation. Dona Bertarelli in particular was closely involved in this work and she also focused on the promotion of knowledge sharing amongst clinicians and ethicists in issues concerning reproductive health and the treatment of infertility, which reflected the advances made in this field by Serono. The Bertarelli Foundation’s aim was to achieve a better understanding of couples’ sterility and – crucially – to have sterility more widely acknowledged as a ‘true disease’.
In 2008 the Bertarelli Foundation refocused in three areas – marine science and conservation; life science research; and support for local communities. The ocean and medical research are both of historic significance to the family; Serono, the company built by the Bertarelli family over three generations, was at the forefront of healthcare research, while each of the family have a deep and long-held affinity for the oceans.
Today the Bertarelli Foundation tackles some the biggest issues in the fields of marine conservation and life science research and does so by developing partnerships with scientists, NGOs and governments around the world. As a result the Foundation is helping to provide real solutions to critical problems ranging from combating illegal-fishing to overcoming congenital deafness.
The Bertarelli Foundation also supports important projects in local communities in parts of the world where the trustees have lived or worked – particularly in Switzerland, Tuscany, the United States of America and the north-west of England.
The history and focus of the Bertarelli Foundation is intimately linked to the successes and achievements of Serono. Established in 1906, the growth and eventual sale of Serono to Merck in 2006, provided the foundation for the family’s philanthropic values.