Weill Cornell Medical College announced Dec. 4 that it has received a $25 million gift from Gale and Ira Drukier to establish a cross-disciplinary institute dedicated to understanding the causes of diseases that are devastating to children. Its goal will be to rapidly translate basic research breakthroughs into advanced therapies for patients.
The Gale and Ira Drukier Institute for Children’s Health will enable the medical college to recruit a team of five leading scientists to pursue innovative research that improves treatments and therapies. The Drukier Institute will expand and enhance the medical college’s research and clinical care programs that strive to end diseases and disorders that affect children and adolescents, including asthma, autism, cancer, cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases and schizophrenia.
“We couldn’t be more grateful to Gale and Ira, whose generous gift exemplifies their commitment to advancing human health and their steadfast support of Weill Cornell Medical College,” said Sanford I. Weill, chairman of the Weill Cornell Board of Overseers. “The Drukiers’ investment will better the lives of children in New York and beyond, and will leave a lasting mark on our next generation.”
“We are greatly appreciative of Gale and Ira Drukier, whose remarkable gift will enable Weill Cornell to expand its world-class research and clinical care programs for children, who can’t be treated like little adults,” said Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College. “The Drukiers’ generosity is critical in allowing us to attract the best and brightest minds in pediatric research, who will lead the way as we pursue innovative treatments and therapies that will ensure the health of children now and in the future.”
“As parents and grandparents, Gale and I appreciate the tremendous impact medicine can have on growing children,” said Ira Drukier ’66, M.Eng. ’67, a member of the Weill Cornell Board of Overseers. “When you cure children, you give them their entire life back. It’s with immense pride that we are able to make this investment, which will empower Weill Cornell Medical College to focus and direct all of its outstanding pediatric research under the auspices of one institute and provide vital resources to develop tomorrow’s treatments and cures.”
“It gives us great joy to be able to support Weill Cornell Medical College and make such a tremendous difference in children’s lives,” Gale Drukier said. “This gift also continues our enduring relationship with Cornell University, with which we have been connected for 40 years.”
The Drukiers have a legacy of philanthropy at Cornell, where they endowed the deanship of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, and endowed the position of curator of prints and drawings at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. They also established a garden at Cornell Plantations.
“We at Cornell are immensely grateful to Gale and Ira Drukier for their extraordinary leadership and generosity, which has already been felt across the university,” President David Skorton said. “With this spectacular new gift, the Drukiers are enabling us to achieve an unprecedented level of excellence in pediatric research. The bench-to-bedside approach of the Drukier Institute will have a lasting impact on children and their families, giving hope when they need it most.”
The Drukiers’ gift will enable Weill Cornell to secure the latest research equipment, such as sequencing and informatics technology, as well as develop an infrastructure to establish a biobank. Investigators at the institute will work in close collaboration with clinicians in Weill Cornell’s Department of Pediatrics to ensure that children immediately benefit from the latest research advances.
The gift will endow the Drukier Lectureship, an annual lecture at Weill Cornell on a research or clinical topic in the field of children’s health. It also will establish the Drukier Prize, which will be awarded annually to a junior faculty member for excellence and achievement in advancing research on childhood diseases or disorders.
Ira Drukier is a graduate of Cornell’s College of Engineering and Graduate School, and he earned a doctorate in electrical engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. Following a successful career in microwave electronics, he co-founded BD Hotels LLC, a real estate development company that owns and operates more than two dozen hotel properties in New York City. At Cornell, he has served on the Weill Cornell Board of Overseers since 2012, sat on Cornell University Board of Trustees for eight years and was a member of the Cornell Tech Task Force to help develop the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island.
Gale Drukier graduated from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development with a degree in speech pathology and audiology, later earning a Master of Science and a Doctor of Education degree in audiology from Teacher’s College at Columbia University. She began her career as an audiologist at Bellevue Hospital and at Veterans Affairs hospitals in metropolitan New York, later joining Trenton State University – now the College of New Jersey – as a professor. During her 17-year tenure there, she conducted research, taught and developed the college’s nationally accredited graduate program in audiology. After retiring from teaching, she joined BD Hotels. At Cornell, she serves on the Johnson Museum’s Advisory Council and the Plantations Council.
Alyssa Sunkin-Strube is a writer and editor at Weill Cornell Medical College.