Campus & Community

Philanthropists Eli & Edythe Broad announce $100M gift to Harvard for research at the Harvard-MIT Broad Institute

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Donation brings couple's total gift to $200 million

Eli and Edythe
Caption: Eli and Edythe Broad are doubling their donation to the Broad Institute with a $100 million gift to Harvard for research. (Staff photo Justin Ide/Harvard News Office)

Only 18 months after the launch of the Broad Institute, a unique collaboration of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Los Angeles-based philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad announced on Wednesday (Nov. 30) that they are doubling to $200 million their donation to the Broad Institute with a $100 million gift to Harvard for research at the institute.

The Broads’ gift is among the largest ever to higher education institutions and is unique in that it supports a joint endeavor combining the strengths of two great universities ‚ Harvard and MIT. The Broads’ first $100 million gift was made through MIT to the Broad Institute, and the combined donation will be given at the rate of $20 million per year over 10 years.

The Broad Institute is a new type of biomedical research institute announced in 2003 and launched in 2004 by an unprecedented collaboration of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Harvard-affiliated hospitals, and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Its mission is to fulfill the promise of genomics for medicine. It aims to empower creative scientists to construct new powerful tools for genomic medicine, to make them accessible to the global scientific community, and to apply them to the understanding and treatment of disease.

“Edye and I have been impressed by the tremendous progress already made by the scientists at the Broad Institute and by the success of this new model for collaborative science involving Harvard and MIT,” said Eli Broad, founder and chairman of the Broad Foundations. “We are making this gift because we believe that the next generation of young scientists has the vision and ability to transform medicine.

“Our gift will allow the Broad Institute to create new capabilities that will allow it to take on important new challenges,” added Broad. “We hope others will join us in supporting this unique and powerful venture.”

“The promise of genomic medicine to diagnose, treat, and potentially cure diseases that affect millions can be more rapidly achieved through collaboration and partnership,” said Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers. “The Broad Institute, thanks to Eli and Edye Broad’s continuing generous support, has become a model for the way we think about, organize, and conduct research. By bringing together different scientific disciplines, the institute will allow us to increase our understanding of the human genome and turn this knowledge into treatments and cures for diseases more rapidly.”

Eric Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute, said, “Eli and Edythe Broad’s vote of confidence, expressed through this generous gift, is a tribute to the work of hundreds of young scientists who have come together under this unique collaboration. The Broad Institute’s scientists have already made major advances in cancer, medical genetics, chemical biology, infectious disease, and other fields. The Broads’ unrestricted support helps a remarkable generation seize the opportunities ahead.”

The Broad’s annual budget of $100 million is derived largely from traditional peer-reviewed scientific grants, but the Broads’ gift will allow the institute to pursue new directions and initiatives.

Susan Hockfield, president of MIT, noted that, “The mission of the Broad Institute draws on the extraordinary strengths in the Boston/Cambridge area, with its world-leading institutions and scientific minds and resources.

“The vision of the Broad reaches across the frontiers of scientific, technological, and medical research and sets out new structures for collaborative work,” Hockfield said. “We continue to be profoundly grateful to Eli and Edye Broad for their visionary commitment to this important work and for their extraordinary leadership as philanthropists.”

The Broad Institute has a world-class faculty, 60 of whom are core and associate members, with appointments at one of the Harvard- or MIT-based institutions. They collaborate through scientific programs based at the Broad to identify and tackle important projects that can best be attacked collaboratively. The activities range across biomedical science including the following:

  • Chemical biology, which involves using chemistry to probe biological systems and to identify potential therapeutics;
  • Genome analysis studies, including sequencing and analysis of mammals and microbes to identify the functions encoded in human DNA;
  • Medical and population genetics, including defining the genetic variation in the human population and using it to find the basis of diseases such as diabetes or psychiatric disorders;
  • Cancer research, ranging from mapping the molecular pathways of different cancer types to identifying novel compounds to alter tumor development and growth;
  • Infectious disease projects, which range from understanding the genetic variability of infectious agents to identifying new therapeutics.Broad scientists have helped enable these studies by playing a leading role in creating genomic tools that can be used by the entire biomedical community. Broad scientists led the recently completed international effort to create a catalog of human genetic variation called the Haplotype Map (“HapMap”). They are also leading an international collaboration to make a complete library of RNA interference (RNAi) against every human and mouse gene.”The intellectual community of the Broad Institute has made possible our work in understanding the basic workings of malaria,” said Dyann Wirth, professor of infectious diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health and associate member of the Broad Institute. “We could never have done this alone.”

    “Work in my laboratory on the Achilles’ heels of cancer has flowed directly from collaborations at the Broad Institute,” said William Hahn, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School based at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and an associate member of the Broad Institute. Hahn has been a leader of the Broad-based RNAi Consortium. “The unique energy and organization of the Broad community is accelerating progress in many labs.”

    A new Broad Institute building, located at 7 Cambridge Center in Kendall Square in Cambridge, is scheduled for completion in the early spring of 2006. The expansion from the institute’s current nearby location at 320 Charles St. along with the new gift from the Broads will allow Broad scientists to undertake additional exciting and critical scientific studies they have identified as priorities for furthering the understanding of human biology and disease.