The Simons Foundation is chaired by James Simons, who also serves as an NYGC board director. The Carson Family Charitable Trust is led by NYGC board co-chairman Russell Carson.
The grant will comprise an $80 million contribution from the Simons Foundation and $20 million from The Carson Family Charitable Trust. The gift is offered as a challenge grant to the Genome Center from the foundations of the two directors. They will match every dollar that NYGC raises over the course of the next three years, up to $100 million.
Funds from the grant will be used to drive NYGC’s mission, including:
• Serving as a resource for genomics collaboration and discovery among New York’s research and medical institutions, thus broadening the impact of the region’s outstanding medical resources;
• Advancing genomic discoveries to improve health by fostering collaborative investigation among the scientific and clinical communities in New York and beyond;
• Expanding clinical capabilities to enable personalized medicine by offering physicians new insights and treatment options for patients;
• Enabling NYGC to meet the growing needs of the clinical and research communities in New York by building new laboratories to scale genomics technology;
• Acquiring and developing cutting-edge technologies designed to efficiently and effectively advance genomic innovation;
• Fostering New York’s emerging position as the leading region for genomics by recruiting promising genomic scientists to New York and supporting their work;
• Developing highly efficient databases for the management of genomic data for use by scientists and clinicians to improve the fundamentals that move research forward, such as technology and methods development, data centralization and data sharing.
NYGC Founding Director and CEO, Robert B. Darnell, MD, PhD, said, “We are enormously grateful to Russ and Jim for their ongoing dedication to the New York Genome Center, including this remarkable gift. It’s an incredible vote of confidence in NYGCs efforts to foster a thriving clinically-focused genomics community in New York. This kind of support will enable discoveries in a broad range of diseases, including cancer, neuropsychiatric and inflammatory diseases, that can help patients today.”
Mr. Carson and Dr. Simons helped establish the New York Genome Center, the unique consortium of medical schools, hospitals, research institutions and industry partners dedicated to genomics research. Mr. Carson has served as the co-chairman of the board of the Genome Center since its creation. Both men have been instrumental leaders of the organization and have helped guide its substantial growth from its initial concept in 2011 to its current leadership position in the evolving field of genomics.
With this gift, the Simons Foundation’s philanthropic support of the Genome Center will exceed $100 million. The Simons Foundation was the largest donor to the Center prior to this gift, and Dr. Simons has been an ardent proponent of the innovative work of NYGC and its focus on clinically actionable genomics.
“By matching all philanthropic donations to the New York Genome Center over the next three years, we hope to inspire those who have already been generous and also attract new donors,” Mr. Carson said. “I am confident that investing in genomics research is to the benefit of the community overall, and particularly to those suffering from some of our most challenging diseases. It’s a privilege for me to support this critical work.”
Over the course of the past year, NYGC has expanded its research in a number of areas, including glioblastoma, pediatric cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, Lou Gehrig’s disease and autism, through more than 700 collaborative projects with New York’s venerable academic medical centers, many of whom are founding institutions of NYGC, as well as medical schools and hospitals across the country and around the world.
Last week NYGC received a $40 million grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to create a Center for Common Disease Genomics through which it will work to develop a comprehensive list of genes underlying common diseases such as autism, autoimmune and neuropsychiatric disorders.
Among its notable achievements, scientists at NYGC are pioneering the development of faster and cost effective methods for a variety of sequencing strategies ranging from sequencing whole cancer genomes to single stem cells, which will lead to more sophisticated disease diagnosis and therapeutics.