The Simons Gift Priorities
Stony Brook University began in 1957 with a bold vision—to create a flagship university for the State University of New York system that would rival the best public universities in the nation. The subsequent decades have seen great progress toward realizing that vision.
Now, fortified by a historic $200 million gift from Jim and Marilyn Simons, the Simons Foundation, and more than 1500 friends and alumni — among the top ten gifts to public higher education in America — Stony Brook is poised to accelerate its trajectory of excellence. President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.’s vision to expand excellence throughout the University focuses on transforming the School of Medicine, establishing endowed professorships in strategic areas, increasing support for graduate and undergraduate education, and funding centers of academic excellence.
Thanks to the generosity and commitment of Jim and Marilyn Simons and the Simons Foundation, we will:
Successful academic medical centers fulfill the mission of providing clinical care, educating health care providers, and performing cutting-edge research.
A nationally recognized life sciences research program will strengthen Stony Brook’s ability to recruit talented medical students and outstanding graduate and undergraduate students interested in careers in the life sciences and health care.
Neurosciences: Neuroscience research is an area of strength for Stony Brook University and its partners. The Simons gift comes at the absolutely opportune time to invest in the neurosciences and recruit an outstanding department chair for Neurology.
The University will add faculty and specialized neuroimaging equipment. In addition, the Simons gift will be used to renovate space in the existing Health Sciences Center to house the new Advanced Neurosciences Institute, which will bring together neuroscientists from multiple disciplines to collaborate on critical research and develop new knowledge and solutions.
Cancer: Cancer research and clinical care also are areas of strength at Stony Brook, most notably our innovative research in pancreatic cancer, a developing program in colon cancer, and with the leadership of Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, M.D., an expertise in hematologic malignancies. These areas will see significant investment from the Simons gift. The School of Medicine’s ability to perform research on human tissue will strengthen the University’s partnership with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and its Cancer Center. The recruitment of Dr. Yusuf Hannun as Stony Brook’s new Cancer Center director, and further investment in faculty recruitment—along with physically bringing cancer clinical services and research laboratories together in a true Cancer Center located in the new Medical and Research Translation (MART) building—will position Stony Brook to obtain the prestigious designation of a National Cancer Institute from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Infection and Immunity: Emerging infectious diseases are a constant threat (witness the recent H1N1 flu epidemic, the sudden emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and the ongoing epidemic of HIV), while diseases related to immune responses (rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and MS) remain major health challenges. Stony Brook is a leader in the study of Lyme disease (with the causative agent identified by the chair of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Dr. Jorge Benach) and virology (with the first synthesis of a virus performed here), and has a presence in clinical trials related to HIV. A very strong pharmacology group and a chemistry group with expertise in drug design provide added capabilities in this field. The University recently received a large grant from the NIH to construct a new biosafety level three facility that will add significantly to capacity in this area. Much of the work in drug development increasingly involves structural biology, and the presence of the future National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory will put Stony Brook in a favored position in crystallography, and the University plans to recruit accordingly. The Simons gift will help enhance research opportunities in this critical area.
Enabling Technologies: Funding from the Simons gift will allow Stony Brook to invest in imaging, genomics, and biomedical informatics—powerful technologies that are rapidly transforming all fields of medical research. A new Center for Biological Imaging will leverage expertise from BNL (including the research team led by Department of Chemistry adjunct Joanna Fowler), Biomedical Engineering and other engineering departments, physics and other sciences, and the life sciences. As a result, Stony Brook will attract outstanding life researchers in the field of genomics, while investing in the high-tech and human capital necessary to harness the tremendous quantities of data generated by medical imaging, gene sequencing, and clinical histories. These initiatives are essential for Stony Brook to move into the highest tier of research universities.
Stony Brook University will build a new life sciences research building directly connected to the Hospital to facilitate contact between clinicians and scientists and to serve as a hub for research in the School of Medicine. Funded in part by the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant ($35 million) and the Simons gift ($50 million), this eight-level, 250,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Medical and Research Translation building will be devoted to imaging, neurosciences, and cancer research.
The MART center will have 25 cancer biology-oriented laboratories, a 30-room cancer clinic, 30-station clinical infusion center, 300-seat auditorium, rooms for smaller conferences, and new classrooms for students.
This enriched environment for discovery and innovation will support outstanding faculty in targeted areas, provide space for growth of the Cancer Center, and will house the Center for Biological Imaging where joint research, education, and technology development will integrate the intellectual and physical resources of Stony Brook, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Human capital is the fundamental strength of any research university and the fastest path to excellence is through the recruitment of outstanding faculty. This is how Stony Brook got its start, leading to four Nobel Prizes and worldwide academic accolades.
Stony Brook will use a significant portion of the Simons gift to provide matching funds for new endowed professorships, enabling it to make significant advances in the University’s academic mission campuswide.
Great faculty attract outstanding graduate students, and great graduate students attract outstanding faculty.
A newly created $16 million Simons Fund to support graduate students will create new fellowships for Stony Brook’s best students. A research fellowship, enabling junior scholars to travel to sites relevant to their work and join the larger community of scholars, and a dissertation fellowship, designed to provide support during the final year of writing, are just two examples of how additional fellowships will dramatically strengthen the quality and the quantity of Stony Brook’s research.
“Thanks to Jim and Marilyn Simons’ transformative investment in Stony Brook University, we can accelerate our ambition to provide the resources, environment, and vision needed to create the new knowledge and innovative solutions the world needs now.” — President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.
Stony Brook is an outstanding public university, offering a wonderful education at reasonable cost to thousands of young people. The generosity of those who joined us in this effort will enhance the University in many dimensions, making that education more valuable still.