$20M gift to boost innovation in health and technology
By David Nutt, Cornell Chronicle
A $20 million gift from Andrew H. ’71 and Ann R. Tisch will foster engagement and collaboration between Cornell Tech and Weill Cornell Medicine, catalyzing new discoveries at the intersection of health and technology – ranging from precision, genomics-based medicine to the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve clinical care.
The Tisch Faculty Support program will be managed between Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell Tech. The gift will support the recruitment of an inaugural chair of the new Department of Systems and Computational Biomedicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, and endow a professorship to be held by the chair; it will also endow one senior- and one junior-level professorship at Cornell Tech in the area of health technology.
“This wonderful new support from Andrew and Ann Tisch will fuel the pathbreaking collaboration and innovation of our faculty at the critical interface of medicine and technology,” said President Martha E. Pollack. “I am so grateful for their investment in this exciting area of exploration, where faculty research is poised for translation into significant human impact.”
Taken together, the new positions will strengthen the links between both campuses’ foundational science, computational science and clinical-care programs, and generate pioneering discoveries that will directly affect patients and improve their care.
“Next-generation technology has the potential to transform the health care landscape, providing crucial new scientific insights that will optimize and personalize the care we give our patients,” said Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine. “Andrew and Ann Tisch’s generous gift, for which we are profoundly appreciative, will help us realize this potential.”
The new Department of Systems and Computational Biomedicine is a result of Weill Cornell Medicine’s efforts to optimize the structure, organization and scope of its scientifically oriented academic departments, institutes and centers. The department will bring together expertise in areas ranging from systems biology and biomedical applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning, to deep molecular phenotyping technologies. Departmental faculty will harness the power of cutting-edge technologies and AI and computational science approaches to improve human health, while launching a vital hub for scientific collaboration across Cornell’s campuses.
The department chair, who will hold the Andrew H. and Ann R. Tisch Professorship of Systems and Computational Biomedicine, will collaborate with faculty from the Englander Institute for Precision Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell Tech and Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar to inform the department’s work with a range of expertise in computer science, biomedical engineering, functional and evolutionary genomics, nanotechnology, the full spectrum of omics technologies, and facility with model and non-model organisms. The chair will also foster new programs with industry and in entrepreneurship with the support of Weill Cornell Medicine Enterprise Innovation.
“The Tisches have always played a leadership role in helping our campus excel,” said Greg Morrisett, the Jack and Rilla Neafsey Dean and Vice Provost of Cornell Tech. “Their gift will provide crucial resources to enable us to collaborate more closely with Weill Cornell Medicine and other health care players to advance the impact of digital health technologies.”
The investments in Cornell Tech faculty will fast-track discovery and collaboration with industry partners, and drive impact through the campus’s domain-focused hubs in health tech, urban tech and connective media. The new faculty positions will also further strengthen relationships among Cornell Tech and the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, Weill Cornell Medicine and the Ithaca campus.
“Ann and I are excited to support the foundational and applied research and education, and extraordinary patient care, that have made Cornell Tech and Weill Cornell Medicine such leaders in their fields,” said Andrew Tisch. “Accelerating their partnership and collaboration will lead to the kind of medical and technological breakthroughs that have the potential to transform lives and help to improve the world.”
Andrew Tisch is co-chairman of the board and chairman of the executive committee of Loews Corp., as well as chairman of the Dean’s Leadership Council of the Cornell S.C. Johnson College of Business, chairman of the External Relations Committee of the Weill Cornell Medicine Board of Fellows, vice chair of Weill Cornell Medicine's We're Changing Medicine campaign and a member of the Cornell Tech Council. Ann Tisch, a former national correspondent for NBC News, is the founder and president of Student Leadership Network, an organization that operates the Young Women's Leadership Schools, a network of all-girls public schools, and CollegeBound Initiative, a co-ed college access program.
For decades, the Tisch family have been among the university’s most generous supporters. In 2002, Andrew Tisch and brother James S. Tisch ’75 established the Andrew H. and James S. Tisch Distinguished University Professorship. A gift from Andrew and Ann in 2008 established the Tisch University Professorships, one of Cornell’s highest faculty honors. A gift in 2010 supported Weill Cornell Medicine’s Discoveries that Make a Difference campaign, with a particular focus on neuroscience and cardiology. And a gift in 2016 created an endowed professorship at the Jacobs Institute.