Harvard Medical School receives $90 million, sharing $540 million gift from Ludwig Cancer Research

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Ludwig Cancer Research, on behalf of its founder, Daniel K. Ludwig, has given Harvard Medical School $90 million to spur innovative scientific inquiry and discovery. This gift reflects a portion of a $540 million gift divided equally among Ludwig Centers at six academic institutions throughout the U.S. According to the Ludwig announcement, this new financial support is among the largest private gifts for cancer research.

Massachusetts is the only state to have two Ludwig Centers, one at Harvard and one at MIT. Identical grants are also being awarded to the Ludwig Centers at Johns Hopkins, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Stanford University and the University of Chicago.

“This gift provides a momentous opportunity for the entire Harvard Medical School community to glean new insights into the basic biology of cancer as well as to accelerate the translation of basic research to improve patient outcomes,” said Jeffrey S. Flier, MD, dean of the faculty of medicine at Harvard University. “We recognize that Daniel and Virginia Ludwig were powerful advocates for excellence in cancer research. We at Harvard Medical School are grateful to them for their generosity and their vision, and are committed to honoring their legacy by defining the best strategic use of these new funds to advance the fight against cancer.”

This is the second major commitment Harvard has received from Ludwig Cancer Research to support a Ludwig Center that draws on the combined expertise of faculty members across the HMS Quad as well as its affiliated institutions, including those that collaborate through 18 disease- and discipline-based research programs as part of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. Since 2006, Ludwig Cancer Research has given approximately $60 million to the Ludwig Center at Harvard, including the endowed Ludwig professorships and an initial endowment directed specifically toward novel cancer research. These new funds will allow the cancer research community of Harvard to build upon and markedly extend research activities, attract leading biomedical and cancer researchers, speed the pace of discovery, pursue findings through subsequent stages of research, and expand collaborations throughout the U.S. and internationally.
This newly expanded Ludwig Center will be co-directed by Joan Brugge, PhD, the Louise Foote Pfeiffer Professor of Cell Biology and chair of the HMS Department of Cell Biology, and George D. Demetri, MD, professor of medicine at HMS and the Quick Family Chair of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

“Over the last few decades researchers have done an outstanding job of dissecting cancer through many parallel lines of investigation. Now, we need to develop new and innovative ways to integrate that accumulated knowledge in order to create new and more effective cancer therapies,” said Brugge. “Through the generosity of Ludwig Cancer Research, we will be able to bring together a diverse cross-section of experts throughout the Harvard cancer community, breaking down barriers that have all too often impeded the integration of knowledge and the kind of transformational advances required to develop new and effective therapies. I am thrilled to be a part of such an exciting collaboration.”

“The independent, flexible funding of this transformational gift to expand the Ludwig Center at Harvard will galvanize and support investigators to work together in new ways with the goal of discovering and developing breakthrough innovations that can benefit patients with cancer as well as other diseases,” said Demetri. “In this time of shrinking public funds for science, the impact of this philanthropic funding cannot be overstated: the research that will be enabled by this gift will bring together teams of leading basic scientists and clinical investigators at Harvard, in a collaborative culture with a network of Ludwig Cancer Research institutions, to turn the best of modern science and technology into new strategies for the diagnosis, treatment, cure and prevention of cancer.”

“In many respects Harvard is uniquely poised to leverage powerful collaborations that span the bench-to-bedside trajectory,” added Dean Flier. “Our campus, along with the medical school’s affiliated hospitals, houses some of the world’s preeminent investigators in basic cancer biology. This gift from Ludwig holds the promise of enabling life-changing advances.”

This most recent gift, adding to the endowments established in 2006 to support the Ludwig Centers at each of the six institutions, brings the total to $900 million. In 1971, Mr. Ludwig also endowed the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research with his international holdings. Today, the Ludwig Institute supports approximately 600 scientists around the world. Together, Ludwig Cancer Research has made worldwide contributions totaling $2.5 billion to advance cancer research.

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