The Institute community gathered on May 21 to celebrate five years of the Institute’s work in innovation, collaboration, and technology translation. But there was a big surprise in store, as Harvard University President Drew Faust announced to all that the Institute’s founding donor, Hansjörg Wyss, would match his initial gift of $125 million to the Wyss Institute, doubling his 2009 investment in developing new biologically inspired technologies to $250 million.
"My greatest wish is to give most of my money away before I die to make a difference in the world," Wyss told about 300 of the Institute’s faculty, staff, fellows, students, as well as the executive leadership of the Institute, Harvard University, Harvard Medical School, Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston University who gathered for the mid-day event on the fifth floor of the Center for Life Sciences Building in Boston.
Wyss has already made a big difference, Harvard President Drew Faust said at the event. "We just don’t know how to thank you for your vision and what this has meant for scientists and the people who will be beneficiaries of that science," she said.
Wyss complimented Founding Director Don Ingber and the accomplishments of Institute researchers. "I’m excited and pleased about what’s happened here under Don’s direction," he said.
At the event, Wyss specifically thanked the Institute staff for their efforts to develop technologies and potential clinical treatments that neither he nor anyone else could have foreseen when the institute was launched just four years ago.
"I still can’t believe we have published an average of one Science or Nature paper every month for 52 months," Ingber said to the crowd. Ingber noted more of the institute’s accomplishments — 450 patents, two clinical trials, 20 industry collaborations in discussion, and more. Ingber touted the Institute’s groundbreaking new approach to technology transfer, involving collaborations between industry and academic scientists. "This is something new, and we’re incredibly proud of that," he said.
Ingber, like Wyss, attributed the Institute’s success to its faculty and staff, which has grown to 350 people. "The secret to our success is the people," Ingber concluded.
For more information, see the press release outlining news of Wyss’ gift.