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Another Massive Gift to Boston Schools and Research

Once again, Harvard and MIT are the destination for a very large research endowment, in this case $600 million. The gift will turn a 10-year experimental biomedical research project into a permanent foundation. This is a result of the tremendous advances and success of the program. The project is essentially a continuation of the Human Genome Project. This money will continue to fund the foundation and create opportunities in furthering the research. Over 1200 staff from both schools are affiliated with the project. It shows how schools in Boston work well with each other. This foundation will continue to bridge the gaps between schools. Boston has become the center for biomedical research funding, and this is another piece of evidence for that. 



Eli and Edythe L. Broad endow the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT with additional $400 million

Latest gift brings Broad’s underwriting of Institute to $600 million

September 3, 2008

Los Angeles-based philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad today declared theBroad Institute of Harvard and MIT  an unprecedented success as an experiment in science and philanthropy, and announced that they have increased their total gift to the Broad by $400 million to $600 million.  The $400 million will be an endowment to convert the institute — which was originally launched as a 10-year “venture” experiment — into a permanent biomedical research organization aimed at transforming medicine.

The total $600 million commitment is the largest to support biomedical research activity at universities anywhere in the world. The gift also reflects a new model for venture philanthropy, for collaboration among universities, and for doing biomedical science.

The Broad Institute was launched in 2004 — just after the completion of theHuman Genome Project (HGP) — with the mission of fulfilling the promise of genomics for medicine and the goal of sustaining the collaborative spirit that propelled the HGP. The institute aimed to bring scientists together to tackle major interdisciplinary problems related to cancer, metabolic diseases, infectious diseases, psychiatric diseases, and other conditions.

Rather than calling a single university home, the Broad Institute was launched as a new kind of research organization spanning the entire Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard communities, including the 17 Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals. As a result, scientists from the various institutions — and from diverse disciplines, including biology, medicine, chemistry, and computer science — created collaborative teams to tackle problems beyond what any of them could do alone. The Broad Institute was also committed to scientific openness, including rapid and free sharing of data and research tools. Today, more than 1,200 scientists and professional staff from across Harvard and MIT are affiliated with the institute.

Read the whole story here.

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thinking Globally at Harvard

This news story is about a visiting scholar at M.I.T. who has developed Geographic Information System software to map out effects of climate change, land use, and other factors in Cambodia affect water flow. This shows how researchers at schools such as M.I.T truly are ‘thinking globally’ and applying their research to many different places in the world. GIS sytems are an emerging technology and will be very useful in future years in order to create maps showing effects of climate change and other environmental and socioeconomic factors. 

Akiyuki Kawasaki maps water flow in the developing world

DECEMBER 5, 2008


Akiyuki Kawasaki thinks globally and maps locally.

To do that, the Japanese researcher, who is spending the academic year as a visiting scholar at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, has developed software that allows researchers to predict how changes in population, land use, climate, urbanization, agriculture and other variables will affect water flow in a given area.

Speaking recently to an audience at Harvard’s Center for Geographic Analysis (CGA), Kawasaki said, “We need to address climate change. To do that it’s necessary to make changes at a local level. This software lets us analyze local water systems and make predictions about them so we can plan wisely.” For his project at Harvard, Kawasaki chose to study the Sre Pok River Basin, a watershed that overlaps Vietnam and Cambodia.

In November 2007, Kawasaki and a Vietnamese student from the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand traveled to Vietnam to get a firsthand look at the rivers, streams, and canals that flow into the basin and to gather the data he would need to create his maps. Kawasaki told the group that getting information from this part of the world can be challenging. Records are not easily available because officials are often reluctant to provide access.  And, he said, compared to data available in developed countries, the data in this part of the world is incomplete and of lower quality.

Luckily a local organization, the Mekong River Commission, had goodgeographic information systems (GIS) data of the area including Cambodia, which he was able to use. Kawasaki and his student tracked down enough usable information about population growth, soil, agriculture, forestry, rainfall, and climate change to make his model work.

Read the full story here. 

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment