Philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad put up $100 million in 2003 to start a new type of biomedical research center: One that seeks to revolutionize clinical medicine by building deep understanding of the human genome. They later followed up with donations of an additional $600 million, for a total gift of $700 million.
The Broad Institute is an independent nonprofit run as a collaboration among the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and the Whitehead Institute. It quickly became one of the top biomedical research facilities in the world. 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.
Of the launch money from the Broads, $400 million was put into an endowment. That philanthropic kernel throws off $20 million of investment income every year. The institute is able to direct those funds into whatever it wants, with no strings attached.
“Our 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 writing a grant and start working on it two years from now after it wends its way through the NIH system.”
- Broad Institute, broadinstitute.org
- Eric Lander quoted in Philanthropy magazine, philanthropyroundtable.org/topic/excellence_in_philanthropy/playing_the_long_game