UMG CEO Lucian Grainge Talks Making a 'Real Dent' Through Cancer Research & Treatment Center City of Hope

On Nov. 5, City of Hope’s Music, Film and Entertainment Industry Group will present Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge with its highest honor, the Spirit of Life Award, for his contributions to the music industry and to City of Hope’s cancer research and treatment center. Grainge, 55, who was appointed to his current position in 2011, has worked for UMG since starting PolyGram Music Publishing U.K. in his native London in 1986, and has been involved in the careers of U2, Rihanna, The Rolling Stones and Sam Smith, among others.

Has your philanthropic work been shaped by personal experience?

Absolutely. My parents played a central role. They instilled the values of philanthropy: both giving and acting to better the world. Regarding City of Hope, like so many people, I have been personally affected by incurable disease, having lost both my parents to cancer.

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What is particularly impressive about City of Hope?

Hands down, their work in linking research and trials with treatments. You can see their work in the patients they treat. The technology they are developing has the very real possibility of impacting the lives of the 40 percent of people in this country who will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. And it’s not just cancer. City of Hope is working on treatments for diabetes, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases.

Why would you recommend that others get involved with City of Hope?

Have you been to the campus [in Duarte, Calif.]? Once you see what they do every day for so many people, you can understand why I’m so thrilled to be a part of this and urging others to do the same. I should also point out that City of Hope is one of many organizations that UMG more broadly is proud to support. As a company, we’ve been longtime supporters of organizations including MusiCares, Musicians on Call, UJA, T.J. Martell and our own EMI Music Sound Foundation.

Are there any breakthroughs that you’re particularly excited about?

Creative brilliance isn’t limited to the arts. Some of the techniques they are developing -- studying how immune cells can be reprogrammed to fight cancer throughout the body and prevent recurrence -- are truly groundbreaking. Again, it’s not just theoretical. We have employees and their family members whose lives have been saved by their treatments.

Do you have any specific philanthropic goals?

It’s premature to announce today, but let me just say that we are in the final stages of putting in place a comprehensive global strategy that will enable us to measurably increase the impact we are having in our social responsibility efforts. For the first time in our company’s history, we will be working together -- artists and employees -- to try and make a real dent in some of the toughest problems the world is facing. My hope is that over time this can become an industry-wide effort. Stay tuned.

Learn about how to volunteer at City of Hope and fundraising opportunities at cityofhope.org.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 24 issue of Billboard.