Landmark $90 million gift from Ludwig Cancer Research will enable life-changing advances

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Landmark $90 million gift from Ludwig Cancer Research will enable life-changing advances

Ludwig Cancer Research, on behalf of its founder, Daniel K. Ludwig, has given $90 million to Harvard Medical School to spur innovative scientific inquiry and discovery.

Daniel K. Ludwig, who endowed the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in 1971 with his international holdings; today, the Ludwig Institute supports approximately 600 scientists around the world

This gift reflects a portion of a $540 million gift—reportedly among the largest private gifts for cancer research—divided equally among six Ludwig Centers at academic institutions throughout the U.S.

According to HMS Dean Jeffrey S. Flier, MD, this gift provides a momentous opportunity for the entire Harvard Medical School community to glean new insights into the basic biology of cancer and to accelerate the translation of basic research to improve patient outcomes.

“We recognize that Daniel and Virginia Ludwig were powerful advocates for excellence in cancer research. We are grateful for their generosity and vision, and we are committed to honoring their legacy by strategically applying these new funds to advance the fight against cancer,” says Flier.

This is the second major commitment Harvard has received from Ludwig Cancer Research to support the Ludwig Center, which draws on the combined expertise of faculty members across the HMS Quad as well as its affiliated institutions, including those that collaborate through 18 disease- and discipline-based research programs as part of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. Ludwig Cancer Research began its support for Harvard Medical School in the mid-1990s with a first endowed professorship; this was followed in the succeeding years with a second endowed professorship and, beginning in 2006, with support totaling $60 million for the Ludwig Center at Harvard—funds that included an initial endowment directed specifically toward novel cancer research.

Breaking Down Barriers

The newly expanded Ludwig Center will be co-directed by Joan Brugge, PhD, the Louise Foote Pfeiffer Professor and chair of the Department of Cell Biology at HMS, and George D. Demetri, AB ’78, MD, professor of medicine at HMS and the Quick Family Chair of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

“Over the last few decades, researchers have done an outstanding job of dissecting cancer through many parallel lines of investigation. Now we need to develop innovative ways to integrate that accumulated knowledge in order to create new and more effective cancer therapies,” says Brugge. “Through the generosity of Ludwig Cancer Research, we will be able to bring together a diverse cross-section of experts throughout the Harvard cancer community, breaking down barriers that have all too often impeded the integration of knowledge and the kind of transformational advances required to develop new and effective therapies. I am thrilled to be a part of such an exciting collaboration.”

In this time of shrinking public funds for science, Demetri says the impact of this philanthropic funding cannot be overstated. “The research that will be made possible by this gift will bring together teams of leading basic scientists and clinical investigators at Harvard, in a collaborative culture with a network of Ludwig Cancer Research institutions, to turn the best of modern science and technology into new strategies for the diagnosis, treatment, cure, and prevention of cancer and other diseases.”

In many respects, Harvard is uniquely poised to leverage powerful collaborations that span the bench-to-bedside trajectory, adds Flier. “Our campus, along with the Medical School’s affiliated hospitals, houses some of the world’s pre-eminent investigators in basic cancer biology. This gift from Ludwig holds the promise of enabling life-changing advances.”

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