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$100M gift launches new Weill Cornell campaign

Sanford Weill and Laurie Glimcher
René Perez
Sanford Weill '55 and Weill Cornell Medical College Dean Laurie Glimcher look at blueprints of the Belfer Research Building.
Sanford Weill and Laurie Glimcher
René Perez
Weill and Glimcher take a tour through a lab space in the Belfer Research Building.

NEW YORK — Weill Cornell Medical College announced today that it has received a $100 million gift from longtime benefactors Joan and Sanford I. Weill and the Weill Family Foundation to launch the college’s $300 million Driving Discoveries, Changing Lives campaign dedicated to using the most advanced scientific approaches to rapidly translate research breakthroughs into innovative treatments and therapies for patients.

“We are profoundly appreciative of the generosity of Joan and Sandy Weill, and of all our loyal donors who are committed to advancing medical discoveries and, above all, making a difference in our patients’ lives,” says Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College. “It is incumbent upon us to find therapies and cures for the world’s most intractable diseases, and the Weills’ phenomenal leadership and unwavering support will ensure that we enhance the health of our patients for future generations.”

“Advancing Weill Cornell’s mission would not be possible without the extraordinary leadership and support of Joan and Sandy Weill,” says Cornell President David J. Skorton. “It’s critical to recognize the need to support student scholarship as a way for us to attract the next generation of physicians and scientists who will truly drive discovery and change lives.”

The Driving Discoveries, Changing Lives campaign will bring to fruition Weill Cornell’s vision for the Belfer Research Building – opening in January – as a hub for multidisciplinary biomedical research and recruit the world’s best and brightest scientists to advance research and treatment of some of the most formidable health challenges. Campaign disease and research priority areas include cancer; cardiovascular disease; diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome; neurological disorders; children’s health and internal medicine; precision medicine; and regenerative medicine.

Funds raised by the campaign also will support the education of Weill Cornell’s students, who as the next generation of physicians and scientists will pioneer medicine’s newest frontiers.

The Weills’ transformative $100 million gift is devoted to two new centers that will investigate cancer, diabetes, obesity and metabolic disorders: the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Cancer Research Center and the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Metabolic Syndrome Center. Weill Cornell has received more than $50 million in additional gifts for the Driving Discoveries, Changing Lives campaign, bringing it halfway to its total campaign goal.

“Joan and I have had the honor and privilege to contribute to Weill Cornell Medical College, helping to sustain this extraordinary institution as one of the world’s leaders in biomedical research,” says Sanford Weill, chairman of the Weill Cornell Board of Overseers. “We are immensely proud of what Weill Cornell has achieved – and what more we can accomplish in the years to come.”

The Joan and Sanford I. Weill Cancer Research Center will enhance the research and clinical activities of the cancer programs at Weill Cornell and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Led by Dr. Lewis Cantley, the Margaret and Herman Sokol Professor in Oncology Research and professor of cancer biology in medicine at Weill Cornell, the programs specialize in precision medicine, which individualizes treatment based on each patient’s genetic profile.

The Joan and Sanford I. Weill Metabolic Syndrome Center will employ cross-disciplinary expertise and cutting-edge technology against diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome. Weill Cornell scientists are using stem cells, cellular and molecular biology, genetics, proteomics, biorepositories and nutritional research to understand the molecular underpinnings of these diseases and then translate these discoveries into new therapeutic approaches. All the while, they are encouraging behavioral changes to enhance health.

The Weills’ generous philanthropy and enduring dedication to advancing medical discoveries have left an indelible mark on Weill Cornell and the patients it serves, beginning with their groundbreaking $100 million gift that in 1998 renamed the institution Weill Cornell Medical College. Just four years later, the Weills gave another $100 million gift to support the Advancing the Clinical Mission capital campaign, launched to transform the patient experience and enhance medical education. And in 2007, to further the Discoveries that Make a Difference campaign and position Weill Cornell at the vanguard of biomedical research, the Weills pledged an unprecedented $250 million. That gift is believed to be the single largest ever given to a medical school and was notably fulfilled with a cash payment in 2009 – a time of global economic instability. With today’s gift, the Weills have given more than $600 million to Weill Cornell Medical College and Cornell University. The Weills’ total philanthropy is now approaching $1 billion.

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John Rodgers