2012 Anti-cancer Encyclopedia
Philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad gave $100 million in 2003 to start a new type of biomedical research center that seeks to revolutionize clinical medicine by building deep understanding of the human genome among researchers. They later followed up with donations of an additional $600 million, for a total gift of $700 million. The Broad Institute is now an independent nonprofit run in collaboration among the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and the Whitehead Institute. Drawing on some of the world’s best academic researchers, the Broad Institute seeks to describe all the molecular components of life, to understand the molecular basis of disease, and to share this information widely.
Four hundred million of the Broad money was put into an endowment. This philanthropic kernel throws off $20 million of investment income every year that the institute can direct into whatever it wants, with no strings attached. “Unrestricted funds are gold, they’re magic,” states director Eric Lander. “We’re able to say when we have a good idea, ‘Let’s start investing in it now rather than write a grant and start working on it two years from now after it wends its way through the NIH system.”
In 2012, the institute announced one of its typically ambitious efforts: a public archive of the genetic aspects and chemical susceptibilities of 947 human cancer cell lines. Called the Cancer Cell Line Encyclopedia, this compendium of uncommon data on common afflictions will help scientists understand the disease, predict its course, and design therapies and drugs. The encyclopedia is a philanthropy/industry collaboration involving the Broad Institute, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and research elements of the drug company Novartis.
- Story from the Broad Institute, broadinstitute.org/news/4048
- Harvard Gazette announcement, news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/03/writing-the-book-of-cancer-knowledge
- Eric Lander quoted in Philanthropy magazine: philanthropyroundtable.org/topic/excellence_in_philanthropy/playing_the_long_game