Donor Stories: Huayi Zhang

In what he called an opportunity to “support an important institution in his neighborhood,” Huayi Zhang, Ph.D., a researcher at Renaissance Technologies, has established an endowed chair in the Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

The Zhang Family Endowed Chair in Immunology, created with a $1 million pledge from Dr. Zhang, will allow Stony Brook to recruit a leader to advance our understanding of the immune system in health and disease. Zhang says he believes Stony Brook School of Medicine has the potential to make breakthroughs in this important field, and the endowed professorship will help the University progress toward that goal.

Stony Brook MedicineThough not a graduate of Stony Brook himself, Zhang said he was inspired by the recent transformational gift from his former boss, Jim Simons. Jim and Marilyn Simons and the Simons Foundation pledged $150 million — the largest philanthropic gift in Stony Brook history — to support the School of Medicine and other University initiatives. Dr. Zhang’s gift will be matched dollar for dollar through the Simons Challenge Grant, bringing the level of the endowment to $2 million.

The inaugural Zhang Family Chair in Immunology will assume a leadership role in research and will help build the immunology research infrastructure at the School of Medicine. The Chair will be the focus of a new initiative in infectious diseases and immunology designed to compete with the best programs in immunology in the nation.

“With our established excellence in infectious diseases and cancer biology, it only makes sense to build a world-class immunology program to bring together these disciplines, creating a research group that will be far greater than the sum of its parts,” said Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the Stony Brook School of Medicine. “The extraordinary contributions of the Zhang family and Marilyn and Jim Simons will allow us to transform the health sciences at Stony Brook into a world leader in translating the basic discoveries of immunologists and cancer biologists into new diagnostics and cures for patients with a range of devastating diseases. I truly applaud the generosity of these exemplary citizens of our community.”

“The Zhang Family’s generosity will further Stony Brook’s emerging expertise in the area of immunology,” said Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, President of Stony Brook University and a nationally recognized expert in infectious diseases.  “The Zhang Family Endowed Professor will be a world-class, research-oriented scientist who will be recruited to link infection or cancer research with immunology, enabling the development of synergistic new areas of investigation into the pathogenesis of these and other diseases."