The Harvard Crimson reports that Harvard received its largest gift ever of $125 million from Swiss native, Hansjorg Wyss (HBS ’65). The gift will fund the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering which will be part of a new science institute in Allston. Harvard administrators are tremendously enthusiastic about the gift saying it will enable the school to strengthen its engineering department. University President Drew G. Faust said,
“It’s a field that we have had some investment in…But this will just jump-start us into a whole new level and set up a program that will be vibrant and bring together the Medical School and the School of Engineering and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences all together and the hospitals.”
The Wyss gift comes at a time when the development of its bioengineering program will be a top priority at Harvard University. Although the gift enables Harvard to jump start expansion of its bioengineering program, the school has even greater aspirations. For example, the Wyss Institute will function as a “research and faculty-building program” but not as an “educational program.” Yet, Harvard Professor Ronald Ingber (and pathologist at Harvard-affiliated Children’s Hospital in Boston) explained that,
“What we’re trying to do is to cross boundaries between fields, between schools, between institutions, between academia and industry—cross boundaries that you don’t usually see crossed at academic institution…The long-term goal is to harness the real power of Boston that no place in the world can compete with…The ability to interact with faculty across Harvard, its hospitals and its neighboring universities, the big pharmaceutical companies and biotech start-ups, the IT companies—Boston has it all.”
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