Northwestern University has announced a $15 million gift from trustees Louis A. Simpson '58 ('96 P) and Kimberly K. Querrey ('22 P) to establish an institute focused on the effects of the environment on the regulation of gene expression.
The gift will establish the Simpson Querrey Institute for Epigenetics at the Feinberg School of Medicine and support the institute's operations, recruitment of investigators, and seminar and symposium programs, as well as pilot studies by Northwestern faculty and the Feinberg Fellows in Epigenetics program. The study of epigenetics investigates how environmental factors can modulate the way genes are expressed without changes to a cell's underlying genetic code. Research conducted at the university has shed light on transcriptional regulation and gene expression and provided critical insights into their influence on diseases such as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a rare and deadly pediatric cancer, and the role of immune cells in responding to lung damage caused by pneumonia.
Longtime supporters of the university, Simpson and Querrey awarded $10 million last fall in support of personalized treatments for neurological diseases and $10 million in 2017 to establish the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center. With their latest gift, the couple has given a total of $223.4 million in support of various philanthropic causes, with a focus on higher education.
"I am grateful to Kimberly and Lou for their continuous support of Northwestern and Northwestern Medicine by providing us with resources for the building of the Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center, the state-of-the-art home for us to pursue our passion for biomedical research for the betterment of humankind," said Ali Shilatifard, the Robert Francis Furchgott Professor of Biochemistry and Pediatrics and chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. "The establishment of SQE, now an institute, will allow us to build a world-class epigenetic institute through the recruitment of top-tier faculty, updating our technological abilities, strengthening our bioinformatics and expanding the support of epigenetic research at Northwestern, all creating a synergy in moving science forward faster, making us a leader in this very timely area of science."