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$100 million gift from Gene Lay to Brigham and Women’s Hospital
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$100 million gift from Gene Lay to Brigham and Women’s Hospital

A landmark $100 million gift has been made to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, marking the largest donation in the hospital’s history.

BioLegend Founder and CEO Gene Lay, through the Laygend Foundation, made the historic gift to address a steep rise in cancer and other immune-mediated and inflammatory diseases, the hospital said in a statement.

The gift will establish The Gene Lay Institute of Immunology and Inflammation of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, also a founding member of Mass General Brigham, and Harvard Medical School.

Vijay Kuchroo, DVM, PhD, an immunologist and principal investigator at the Brigham, will serve as inaugural director of the institute, which will be located at and administered by the Brigham.

Arlene Sharpe, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Immunology at HMS, and Ramnik Xavier, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology at MGH, will serve as the institute’s vice directors.

“I have always been fascinated by the immune system’s ability to heal the body,” said Lay. “And I’ve had a longstanding relationship with and respect for the scientists in the Harvard medical community, who played an instrumental role in my career. With this gift, I am bringing together the best scientific minds I know to translate research discoveries into therapies for immune-mediated diseases rooted in chronic inflammation.”

The new institute will “leverage the collective strengths of Boston and HMS-affiliated immunology and biomedical experts and their collaborations with some of the world’s most distinguished scientists,” the statement said.

Kuchroo will lead day-to-day operations, convening core and affiliated faculty and trainees around three central platforms: basic science, translational science, and technology. The primary areas of research will include basic understanding of immune-mediated diseases, aging, and cancer and translation of this knowledge to the development of new immunotherapies. In addition, the Gene Lay Institute will provide substantial training opportunities for students and fellows to support immunology innovators of the future.

“We are honored to receive this historic and visionary gift from Dr. Lay, who is deeply committed to solving an emerging trend in medicine—the rise of chronic inflammation associated with increased levels of disease and suffering,” says Dr. Robert S.D. Higgins, MSHA, president of the Brigham and executive vice president of Mass General Brigham. “This will amplify our ability to improve the quality of patients’ lives across the country and around the world. We’re thrilled to be part of this pivotal moment in the field of medicine.”

“During the past several decades, the astounding rise in inflammatory diseases has made it increasingly clear that chronic inflammation is a root cause of many diseases—not only allergies and autoimmune diseases, but also cancer and neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases,” says Kuchroo. “This transformative gift and investment will allow some of the best immunologists of our time to address this epidemic head-on and build new knowledge to promote basic understanding for preventing and treating immune-mediated diseases.”

Dr. George Q. Daley, PhD, dean of Harvard Medical School added, “As we’ve seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, collaboration across institutions, disciplines, and modes of scientific inquiry is key to addressing our most confounding scientific and medical challenges. We’re deeply grateful for this opportunity to convene the best immunologists in the world to bring solutions to patients and families.”

Lay is the founder of San Diego-based BioLegend, now part of Revvity, Inc., which is a global life sciences and diagnostics company.

BioLegend focuses on the development and production of high-quality antibodies, proteins, and assays for cellular immunity, inflammation, cancer, stem cells, and other reagents required for research and diagnosis.

Since its founding in 2002, BioLegend has expanded its reach across the globe, with research and development facilities in Taiwan and Japan, as well as subsidiaries in Taiwan, Japan, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and France. Lay continues to give back to the scientific community while pursuing his dream of cultivating more expertise in Taiwan, the country where he was born.

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