Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has announced a $10 million gift from the Harry Edison Foundation for its Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology.
The gift from the family foundation will support the center's research programs, including its work on the gut microbiome — the tens of trillions of microbes that colonize the human gut and impact numerous aspects of human health. In recognition of the gift, the university will rename the center the Edison Family Center for Genome Sciences and Systems Biology.
The foundation was established in 1949 by Harry Edison, who, along with his four brothers, owned and operated Edison Brothers Stores. The foundation has been a major supporter of the university for nearly five decades and made its first gift to the medical school, in 1967, to establish a professorship in surgery named for its namesake. The foundation made a gift to establish a second professorship — the Edison Professorship in Neurobiology — in 1977. Other gifts from the foundation have supported a variety of initiatives and programs at the school, including diabetes research, stem cell and developmental biology research, and construction of the Eric P. Newman Education Center, named in honor of university trustee and Edison family member Andrew Newman's father, a 1935 graduate of Washington University's School of Law and a nephew of Harry Edison.
"We are deeply grateful for the Edison family's extraordinary generosity," said Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. "This gift will serve as an important catalyst for the School of Medicine's personalized medicine initiative. It will enhance our efforts to understand how our genetic differences affect our well-being and disease risk and empower a new generation of scientists to combat illnesses that affect millions."