Massachusetts General Hospital has announced a ten-year, $100 million gift from technology entrepreneur Phillip Terrence Ragon and his wife, Susan, to create an institute in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University that will work to accelerate research on an AIDS vaccine.
Funded by the Phillip T. and Susan M. Ragon Institute Foundation, the Ragon Institute will bring together scientists, clinicians, and engineers using the latest technologies to better understand how the body fights infection and ultimately apply that understanding to fight a wide range of diseases and cancers. Based at MGH, the institute will work initially to identify the effective immune responses in a small but extraordinary group of HIV-infected persons who are able to keep the virus in check without medications and design strategies that can induce those responses.
While academic approaches to research typically involve individual scientists working independently, the institute will be mission-oriented and include engineering disciplines, both to facilitate novel experimental approaches and incorporate fresh ways of viewing complex biological systems. The institute's members hope that this new approach, combined with flexible funding, will rapidly advance innovative, interdisciplinary research and help to revolutionize the field of immunology.
"I am delighted that our alumnus, Terry Ragon, has encouraged the collaboration between MGH, Harvard and MIT scientists and engineers in the fight against AIDS," said Marc Kastner, dean of MIT's School of Science. "A major revolution in the next decade will come from the convergence of biology and the physical sciences and engineering, and the Ragon Institute will be a shining example of this revolution."