The largest gift in the school's 236-year history will support four key priorities — deepening fundamental discovery; accelerating the development of new treatments; spurring applications of data science focused on the comprehension, diagnosis, treatment, and cure of disease; and catalyzing collaborative discovery across Harvard's life sciences ecosystem.
Among other things, the gift will fund a therapeutics initiative aimed at eliminating barriers to therapeutic optimization, which include inadequate support for enabling technologies and a cultural divide between academic and industry scientists. The initiative also will boost the imaging and visualization capabilities of the Harvard Cryo-Electron Microscopy Center for Structural Biology, further enabling the identification of new drug targets and the design of next-generation precision therapies for a range of diseases caused by molecular aberrations; enhance single-cell sequencing capabilities, enabling scientists to profile cellular behavior one cell at a time and in the context of its immediate surroundings or microenvironment; and advance the medical school's work in the field of drug discovery.
In addition, HMS will use a portion of the funds to harness advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented reality and help scientists generate richer insights into a range of biological phenomena; build bridges across disciplines and areas of inquiry through a robust collaborative-grants program; and launch the Blavatnik Harvard Life Lab Longwood, which will provide collaborative workspaces for early-stage, high-potential biotech and life sciences startups founded by Harvard students, alumni, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty.
The Blavatnik Family Foundation's previous support for Harvard includes a 2007 gift to establish the Biomedical Accelerator Fund and a $50 million gift in 2013 to create the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator at Harvard University and the Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School.
"It has long been my goal to support innovative, breakthrough scientific research and to expedite the translation of scientific discovery into treatments and cures," said Len Blavatnik, who earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1989. "Harvard Medical School, with its unparalleled history of scientific achievement, creativity, and science entrepreneurship, is the ideal partner to further this dream. I am confident that the school will make the most of this gift to build on its tradition of scientific greatness in the years ahead."