Broad Institute Gets $400M Endowment From Namesakes

9/3/08

Updated Sept. 4 (see below): The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, which is focused on genomic research, is planning to announce Thursday morning its receipt of a $400 million endowment from its founding benefactors Eli and Edythe Broad, according to well-placed sources.

The $400 million is expected to enhance the resources that investigators at the Cambridge, MA, institute have to research the role of genomics in medicine, and it adds to the $200 million the Broad family had already contributed to the institute since 2003. It is also rumored that, along with gaining the new endowment, the institute will become independent of Harvard and MIT, meaning that it will gain full control of its charter and funding, yet still be home to faculty from both prestigious universities. This independence is akin to the setup at the neighboring Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and in contrast to examples such as the newly formed Koch Institute at MIT. That institute, formed in 2007 with a $100 million gift from MIT alum and billionaire David Koch, is integrated into MIT and gets funding and administrative support from MIT.

The big news is expected to be unveiled during a Thursday morning event at the Broad in Kendall Square, where Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick—whose $1 billion life sciences stimulus plan has recently benefited a researcher from Broad in the form of a faculty grant—is on tap to speak. Among the scientific heavyweights expected to celebrate the generous endowment is Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, a founding director of the Whitehead Institute and current professor of biology at the California Institute of Technology.

Update: While the Los Angeles-based Broad couple’s endowment to their namesake institute provides it with long-term financial stability, one confidential source with intimate knowledge of MIT-affiliated research institutes cautions that the money does not exactly put the Broad on Easy Street. Indeed, the institute told the Boston Globe today that the endowment would provide about $20 million of its annual budget of $150 million, with the balance of funding coming from government grants and previous donations.

The institute itself also gave a bit more clarification this morning on the impact of this endowment on its organizational status this morning, saying that the influx of new funding would enable it to become a permanent nonprofit, with Harvard and MIT continuing to “help govern” the institute. Yet its status as a more independent group was not exactly clear.

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