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Transformational megagift from philanthropist Israel Englander to expand medicine research at Weill Cornell
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Transformational megagift from philanthropist Israel Englander to expand medicine research at Weill Cornell

A historic investment from Board of Fellows member Israel Englander will advance Weill Cornell Medicine’s growing research enterprise and support critical initiatives throughout the institution.

The gift will expand the Englander Institute for Precision Medicine and bolster institutional biobanking services.

Notably, it is also the first major gift that will support the construction of Weill Cornell Medicine’s new, state-of-the-art medical research center at 1334 York Ave., recently announced by the institution.

Englander’s investment was made as part of Weill Cornell Medicine’s ambitious $1.5 billion We’re Changing Medicine fundraising campaign. With this investment, he becomes the largest single donor to this campaign and one of the most generous benefactors in the institution’s history.

In recognition of his transformational gift and ongoing commitment to Weill Cornell Medicine, the institution is naming two departments in his honor—the Israel Englander Department of Dermatology and the Israel Englander Department of Ophthalmology. The departments were chosen due to Englander’s personal appreciation for their exceptional leadership, research and clinical care.

“We are immensely grateful to Mr. Englander for his generosity and his vision, which will further our leadership and innovation in health care,” said Dr. Robert A. Harrington, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine and provost for medical affairs of Cornell University. “Investment in cutting-edge research, including precision medicine, will open new avenues of exploration as we seek to better understand and treat some of the world’s most challenging diseases and ensure that we keep pushing medicine forward for the betterment of our patients.”

A portion of the gift builds on Englander’s previous investment at Weill Cornell Medicine that helped to revolutionize precision medicine through the creation of the Englander Institute for Precision Medicine. The institute was established in 2013 to expand the scope of Weill Cornell Medicine’s approach to customizing therapies based upon patients’ unique genetic profiles.

Since its founding, the Englander Institute has emerged as a key translational research hub that uses advanced tools such as genetics, genomic sequencing and clinical data to better understand the factors that drive disease development and progression. Applying this research, investigators work to identify treatments that are most likely to be effective for each individual patient and improve the well-being of those with cancer, genetic diseases and other illnesses.

Precision health is a priority of the We’re Changing Medicine campaign, and this new gift will empower Weill Cornell Medicine to build on and expand the institute’s work, broadening research initiatives and ensuring a wider array of patient treatment opportunities not only in cancer, but for other illnesses such as neurodegenerative disorders and heart disease, as well.

The gift will also enhance the institution’s centralized biospecimen repository, or biobank—collections of human biological samples and related health data—broadening essential clinical and translational research opportunities. The expanded biobank will allow scientists in nearly all of Weill Cornell Medicine’s more than 30 academic departments, centers and institutes, including more than 400 funded investigators, to conduct research at an increased scope, speed and scale, and to develop and customize more effective treatments for patients.

“This generous gift from Mr. Englander will not only strengthen research capabilities at Weill Cornell Medicine; it will also allow us to apply new knowledge across a spectrum of research areas university wide,” said Cornell President Martha E. Pollack. “His enduring commitment to advancing medicine is remarkable, and we are incredibly thankful for his support.”

The Englander Institute will be headquartered in the new medical research center at 1334 York Ave., where a floor will be named the Israel Englander Research Laboratories. Expansion into this space will help foster the next chapter of growth for Weill Cornell Medicine’s research enterprise, including the development of advanced data science, enhanced collaboration across disciplines and the recruitment of a new cadre of innovative scientists.

“Weill Cornell Medicine is extremely fortunate to have the enduring and robust support of our friend and benefactor, Izzy Englander,” said Jessica M. Bibliowicz, chair of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Board of Fellows. “Izzy’s belief in the power of innovation in medicine is inspiring and this gift will have a deep and lasting impact on our faculty, our patients and the wider community for decades to come.”


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