Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian have announced a $700 million gift from Florence Irving and her late husband, Herbert, in support of research and clinical programs aimed at advancing the treatment of cancer.
The bequest, which includes $100 million in previously announced pledges, will enable Columbia and NewYork-Presbyterian to recruit the best basic scientists, physician-scientists, and clinicians dedicated to developing innovations in patient care, including improvements in the efficacy of radiation therapy, new surgical approaches, and a variety of new therapeutic options for patients. A key focus will be the further advancement of cancer research and clinical care in Columbia's Precision Medicine Initiative, which, in partnership with NewYork-Presbyterian, is exploring the genetic and genomic basis of cancer and other life-altering diseases.
The gift also will be used to expand facilities at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, which was established in 2012 at Columbia University Irving Medical Center with a $40 million gift from the Irvings.
"It is widely recognized that the long battle against cancer has arrived at a crucial juncture," said Lee C. Bollinger, Steven J. Corwin, and Lee Goldman, the leaders, respectively, of Columbia University, NewYork-Presbyterian, and Columbia University Irving Medical Center, in a joint statement. "What is perhaps less well understood is that the dramatic advances now within our reach will be realized only by harnessing the learning of many different scientific disciplines, and such work requires enormous institutional resources. The Irvings have given us the means to engage in that collective effort, and we are determined to reward their ambitious vision."
The bequest brings the Irvings' total giving to Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian to more than $900 million over the past three decades. Herbert Irving, who died in 2016 at the age of 98, was a co-founder and former vice chairman of Sysco Corporation. The Irving family also made a bequest of $80 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art this week in support of its Department of Asian Art.
"Herbert and I have always been proud to help the terrific doctors at Columbia and NewYork-Presbyterian," said Florence Irving. "It meant everything to him to be able to support world-class research and caregiving that makes a difference in people's lives. I am honored, as he always was, to be associated with these great institutions and the special people who make them what they are."
(Photo credit: Columbia University)