Category: News stories
Gift from alum and trustee funds research and information warehouse
One in every seven men in the United States will get prostate cancer, making it the second most common type, after skin cancer, for American men. It tends to be a slow-growing disease, but can sprint to life-threatening severity if detected too late. Screening for prostate cancer can yield false-positive findings, but those most at risk for the disease—men whose father or a brother had prostate cancer, African American men, overweight men, and those in their 60s and 70s who are in good health and could expect years more of life—still should ask their doctors whether screening makes sense for them.
That information comes from the just-launched website of the Shipley Prostate Cancer Research Center at the School of Medicine. Created with a $10.5 million gift from BU trustee Richard Shipley (Questrom’68,’72), the center’s labs will be in the Conte Building on the Medical Campus when it opens. The center’s research will be focused on finding genomic approaches to determine which prostate cancers are aggressive and need treatment, and which can simply be monitored.
The center’s website and its Facebook page and Twitter account are up and running now, offering easy-to-follow, impartial information on practically everything anyone needs to know about prostate cancer. There’s “Prostate 101,” an overview about the prostate, information about prostate cancer and getting a second opinion, and a checklist of symptoms; information on screening; treatment options; and the state of research.
This knowledge is available to patients everywhere, “irrespective of where they choose to get their medical care or where they are in terms of testing, diagnosis, or treatment,” says site editor Gretchen Gignac, a School of Medicine associate professor of hematology and medical oncology.
For its founding donor, the center is as much a beacon of information to patients as an incubator for medical research. Shipley was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014 and chose focal laser ablation, a new and less invasive treatment than surgery and other therapies.
“The website will be unique in that it will provide up-to-date information, both on diagnostic and treatment options, in a form the layman can easily understand,” Shipley says.
Read more on BU Today.
Key research will be fueled by collaboration
With a powerful boost from the largest gift in its history, Boston University on Thursday officially opened the Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering, a state-of-the-art research facility that brings together life scientists, engineers, and physicians from the Medical Campus and Charles River Campus and promises to speed life-changing developments in the fields of human health, environment, and energy.
The nine-story, 170,000-square-foot building at 610 Commonwealth Avenue represents an investment of a quarter of a billion dollars—a $135 million construction commitment from BU and a $115 million gift from Rajen Kilachand (Questrom’74, Hon.’14). The BU trustee designated $15 million to support construction of the center and $100 million for an endowment to support research at the intersection of engineering and the life sciences. Kilachand, the University’s most generous donor, pledged $25 million in 2011 to establish Kilachand Honors College and $10 million in 2012 for renovations to Kilachand Hall, at 91 Bay State Road.
University President Robert A. Brown says Kilachand’s latest contribution will fund research that could change the future of health care. “Rajen Kilachand’s gift establishes an endowment that will support research in perpetuity,” says Brown. “It will support hundreds of scientists, researchers, and graduate students working on research that will affect the human condition through research as varied as direct applications to human health, sustainable methods for producing organic materials, food security, and understanding the impact of climate change on all life. The Kilachand Center and the Research Fund will influence all the ways that life sciences and engineering come together to affect our future.”
Kilachand says he believes the new center’s combination of researchers from medicine, engineering, and neuroscience will be the model for future life sciences research, in both academia and industry. “I’m very excited about that collaboration,” he says. “I’m convinced that this research center is going to be the front-runner. I believe from the bottom of my heart that this will become one of the leading research institutes on the planet.”
Bolstered by record gift from trustee Rajen Kilachand
It’s no surprise that Boston University has a great many alumni notable for their financial success. In fact, a recent survey by the consultancy Wealth-X found that the University ranks 19th in the world in number of high-net-worth alumni. Just as notably, those Terriers are sharing their good fortune with their alma mater.
The Campaign for Boston University closed the last fiscal year, June 30, 2017, with almost $1.3 billion in gifts and pledges.
The money includes the largest gift in the University’s history: $115 million from trustee Rajen Kilachand (Questrom’74, Hon.’14), $15 million to support the construction of the new Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering and $100 million to fund the new center’s interdisciplinary research joining life sciences and engineering.
And BU’s first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign, whose goal was increased from $1 billion to $1.5 billion in 2015, still has two years to go.
“This has been a great year,” says Scott Nichols, senior vice president for development and alumni relations. “And we’re optimistic about the future.”
The first such fundraising initiative in University history, the campaign has been a transformative event for BU, remaking its physical campus, expanding its educational offerings, and altering the University’s self-perception and relations with alumni. Lead donor Kilachand has said that previous to the campaign, BU had made so little effort to keep in touch with alumni that when Robert A. Brown contacted him after becoming president in 2005, Kilachand didn’t know who he was.
Since then, the campaign has helped pay for such major construction as the Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering, the Yawkey Center for Student Services, the School of Law’s Redstone Building, the Engineering Product Innovation Center, the Medical Student Residence, the Shipley Prostate Cancer Research Center, and the renovation of the BU Castle to host the Dahod Family Alumni Center.
Campaign dollars also supported the creation of the Pardee School of Global Studies and the Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Honors College. Across the University, Nichols says, “there have been something like 80 named professorships that have been created. There are hundreds of scholarships that have been created.”
Trustee Rajen Kilachand gives $115 million
When Rajen Kilachand came to Boston University in September 1971, he was impressed by the quality of US higher education. He was equally impressed, he recalls, by how much that quality appeared to depend on gifts from wealthy donors. “Whether it was the Mellons, the Carnegies, or the Rockefellers, it was giving for education,” says Kilachand (Questrom’74, Hon.’14). “That’s why today the United States is one of the great centers of higher learning. It is second to none in the world.”
Four-and-a-half decades later, with his latest gift to Boston University, a $115 million commitment to research at the intersection of the life sciences and engineering, Kilachand approaches the ranks of those historic architects of higher education. His contribution, the largest in the history of Boston University, directs $15 million to support construction of the new Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering and $100 million to establish an endowment known as the Rajen Kilachand Fund for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering. That fund will serve as a foundation for BU’s continuing investment in interdisciplinary research that joins the life sciences and engineering, and will support research projects aligned with the grand challenges of life sciences and human health research and its impact on our global society.
This gift from Kilachand, a BU trustee, is not the first incidence of his generosity to the University. In 2011, he pledged $25 million to establish the Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Honors College, which has a current student population of 407. One year later, he increased that commitment by $10 million for a face-lift of Kilachand Hall, the 91 Bay State Road student residence formerly known as Shelton Hall. Those gifts, plus his latest, collectively constitute one of the 50 largest gifts to higher education ever in the United States.
“This magnificent new gift from Rajen Kilachand is the capstone of our efforts to generate philanthropic support for the University,” says BU President Robert A. Brown. “A center like the Kilachand Center and the resources from the fund will have enormous impact, because they fund the very best people, who have the very best ideas and create the very best outcomes. That is what has built the greatness of a lot of the private research universities in the United States. It’s a very strong differentiator. This is the largest gift in our history, and the important thing is that it’s the largest gift to scientific research in our history, by far.”
Connects student ideas with expertise, funding
BU students have a new way to get their great ideas off their hard drives and into the world.
Created with a $1 million gift from the Mullen Family Foundation and based at the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering, BU Spark! is a new incubator for technology-driven student entrepreneurship. The initiative will offer programs and resources to help students pursue next-stage development of projects.
“It’s really about supporting students to take their ideas to the next level, and that can be a commercial venture or developing some tool that could benefit society,” says Spark! director Ziba Cranmer. “A lot of students have said to me already, ‘We’ve got this thing, what do we do with it? What now?’ I can really help them leverage expertise across colleges and centers at the University to bring the skills and the tools they will need.”
BU Spark! will support ventures driven by computer science, engineering, and related disciplines. Help and advice is available from several sources, including Hariri Institute programming experts, the Questrom School of Business BUzz Lab, and graphic designers from the College of Fine Arts, Cranmer says, as well as alumni with expertise to share or money to invest.
Read more on BU Today.
Five-year research arrangement promises mutual benefits
Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source enterprise software, is joining in a five-year-long partnership with Boston University, an arrangement aimed at advancing research into emerging and translational technologies, such as cloud computing and big data platforms. The collaboration, celebrated Monday evening at a dinner at the home of Robert A. Brown, BU president, will involve researchers from both Red Hat and BU, and will provide opportunities for students, staff, and faculty to drive new ideas and new technologies.
Orran Krieger, director of BU’s Cloud Computing Initiative and the University’s lead on the partnership, says Red Hat appreciated the potential of such a research collaboration after working with BU to develop software on the Massachusetts Open Cloud (MOC), at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke, Mass.
Krieger, who is also a College of Engineering professor of the practice of electrical and computer engineering and a Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering resident fellow, says project plans include support for two research labs, one at Red Hat’s new corporate space in Boston’s Seaport district and one on the Charles River Campus. The collaboration, to be managed by an oversight committee made up of key technical personnel at BU and Red Hat, calls for the creation of a Red Hat Incubator that will pursue exploratory research and development based on proposals solicited from across the BU and Red Hat communities. It will provide fellowships to selected PhD students in the College of Arts & Sciences computer science and ENG electrical and computer engineering departments, as well as support for full-time and part-time postdocs and visiting scientists, among them those from universities involved in MOC projects.
Hariri Institute director Azer Bestavros, a CAS computer science professor and a key architect of the Red Hat partnership, says such cooperative arrangements between industry and academia are increasingly common as corporations come to appreciate the benefits of access to the wide range of research conducted at universities.
Read more on BU Today.
The Joan and Edgar Booth Theatre rises on Comm Ave
When leading global financier and self-described sports zealot Steve Zide stepped up with a $10 million naming gift for the BU theater complex under construction on the Charles River Campus, he suspected the decision might surprise a few people. A theater? But as BU trustee Zide tells it, the gift is a fitting and poetic tribute to his theater-loving wife, Janet Zide, and his in-laws, who brought the joy of stage performance into his life and the lives of the Zides’ four children.
Rising from a former parking lot at the edge of 808 Comm Ave in what will eventually be an arts campus within West Campus, the theater will bear the names of Janet Zide’s parents: the Joan and Edgar Booth Theatre. Edgar Booth passed away recently, but Zide’s mother-in-law, Joan Booth, remains an active patron of the arts and a Broadway aficionado, says Zide (LAW’86).
Read more on BU Today.
Says scholarship shows the good people can do
For any scholarship recipient, the aid is an honor and a financial help. Yifan Xu’s scholarship means something more to her: “the glamorous part of humanity,” an act of generosity born of tragedy.
Xu (GRS’16) came to BU this fall from China as the University’s first Lu Lingzi Scholar, a program established in memory of the BU student who died in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Xu grieved with the world over the attack that killed two others besides Lu (GRS’13) and injured and maimed hundreds. Then, researching graduate programs and coming across the scholarship, she found herself “really moved to see how students and teachers in Boston University memorialized Lingzi.”
“I didn’t know her or her family members,” says Xu. “But I admire her family for sharing Lingzi’s story with the world and cooperating with the school to construct the fund.”
SUCCESS DRIVES FUNDRAISING EFFORT FORWARD TO 2019
The singular success of The Campaign for Boston University, which has raised $888 million of its $1 billion goal two years before its scheduled close in 2017, has persuaded the Board of Trustees to boost the campaign’s goal to $1.5 billion and extend its run through 2019.
Scott Nichols, senior vice president for development and alumni relations, says that unlike most campaigns, which begin with a burst of activity and flatten out before picking up again at the end, the momentum of the BU campaign has increased each year, adding more to the total than the year before.
“When we saw that pattern—that the campaign was refusing to slow down—that’s when it became clear that we’ve got a major success on our hands, and what do you do with that?” Nichols says.
Aim higher, of course.
Read more on BU Today, and a hearty thanks to everyone who has donated time and money to The Campaign for Boston University!
Rachel Fearns will research treatments for RSV
Rachel Fearns, PhD, associate professor of microbiology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) is the recipient of a 2014 Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award. Fearns was one of 12 researchers to receive this three-year $300,000 award for her work towards developing treatment for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection.
Each year The Hartwell Foundation invites a limited number of institutions in the U.S. to nominate faculty candidates involved in early-stage, innovative, and cutting-edge biomedical research that has not yet qualified for significant funding from outside sources. In 2014, 15 institutions participated and the Foundation selected the top researchers to receive a Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award.
“The 2014 competition was very strong,” said Fred Dombrose, president of The Hartwell Foundation. “Nominees embraced the opportunity by leveraging internal support and guidance from their participating institution, as well as the experience of previous Hartwell Investigators.” He added, “While significant early-stage funding benefits the individual researcher, participating institutions also receive recognition in the form of Hartwell Fellowships that they designate to qualified postdoctoral researchers.”
Fearns’ research focuses on transcription and genome replication of RSV—a highly prevalent virus that is the major cause of respiratory tract disease in infants and young children. Its genome structure is closely related to a number of other significant human pathogens, such as measles, mumps, and parainfluenza viruses, as well as emerging highly pathogenic viruses, such as Nipah and Ebola viruses.
Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying transcription and genome replication of RSV might help develop antiviral drugs and vaccines to treat and prevent RSV disease, and give insight into how related viruses could also be controlled. “Funding from The Hartwell Foundation will allow my group to explore at a molecular level how the RSV polymerase performs its activities and identify a possible Achilles’ Heel that could be targeted with antiviral drugs,” said Fearns. “We are grateful for their support and generosity.”