The California Institute of Technology has announced a $115 million gift from Tianqiao Chen and Chrissy Luo to establish a neuroscience institute on campus.
The Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech will bring together faculty from across the university's six academic divisions in five interdisciplinary research centers — the T&C Chen Brain-Machine Interface Center, T&C Chen Center for Social and Decision Neuroscience, T&C Chen Center for Systems Neuroscience, Center for Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, and the existing Caltech Brain Imaging Center — with the shared goal of understanding the fundamental principles that underlie brain function. The centerpiece of a $200 million biosciences complex that Caltech plans to build, the institute will be supported by endowment funds to be used at the discretion of the university's leadership for activities such as seeding new lines of research and supporting promising early-career faculty and scholars.
Chen and Luo are co-founders of Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd., at one time the largest online entertainment developer and publisher in China and today a global private investment company, and the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute. Made through their institute, the gift to Caltech is the Chens' first investment in the brain research initiative — in which they plan to invest $1 billion — and the first awarded to an institution in the United States.
"We believe uncovering how the brain perceives, interprets, and interacts with the world is pivotal in so many aspects," said Tianqiao Chen. "It can shape groundbreaking industries such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual reality. It also plays a critical role in addressing social issues such as aging and behavioral deficiencies. It can even help answer many ultimate questions about life, such as its origin, purpose, and ending."
"We share a vision with our cornerstone partners, the Chens," said Caltech president Thomas Rosenbaum, "of translating insights into the fundamental biology, chemistry, and physics of the brain into a deeper understanding of how human beings perceive and interact with the world, and how technological interventions can improve the human experience."