November 22, 2021 – New philanthropic gifts to The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) have established three new endowed chairs focused on cancer research, innovation and scientific leadership.
Endowed chairs represent the highest accolade an organization can bestow upon a faculty or staff member. In addition to providing an important source of permanent funding for research, named endowed chairs enable JAX to recruit, retain and support the best scientists in the world.
“Each of these gifts was inspired by JAX’s transformational president and CEO, Ed Liu, who has raised the Laboratory’s sights for the role philanthropy can play in advancing scientific discovery,” said David Roux, chairman of the Laboratory’s Board of Trustees. “We are grateful to the donors for their generosity and their confidence in JAX’s mission.”
The Edison T. Liu Endowed Chair in Cancer Research
More than 35 donors contributed over $1.5 million, which has been matched with an additional $1.5 million from JAX, to establish The Edison T. Liu Endowed Chair in Cancer Research, named in honor of JAX CEO and President Edison T. Liu, M.D.
On November 29, 2021, after a decade of leading JAX through impressive growth, dramatic change and remarkable achievements, Liu will step down as president and CEO. He plans to remain at JAX as a professor where he will continue to lead the Liu lab studying the functional genomics of cancer, with a focus on breast cancer. Liu is an international expert in cancer biology, genomics, human genetics, molecular epidemiology and translational medicine. His scientific research has focused on uncovering new oncogenes and deciphering on a genomic scale the dynamics of gene regulation that modulate cancer biology. He has authored over 300 scientific papers and reviews, and co-authored two books.
The Edison T. Liu Endowed Chair in Cancer Research supports a faculty position in the Laboratory’s NCI-designated Cancer Center , which seeks to discover precise genomic solutions for cancer by making basic discoveries with human impact. JAX Professor Karolina Palucka, M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed as the first chairholder. Palucka was recently named the director of the JAX Cancer Center, succeeding Liu, who served as director until November 1, 2021.
“Ed Liu has had a transformational impact on both JAX, spearheading the laboratory’s historic expansion into comparative genomics, and on biomedical research, particularly through his work on the genomics of breast cancer,” said Trustee Emeritus David Elliman, who contributed to the gift that established the chair. “Establishing an endowed chair in his honor is the perfect way to honor Ed’s work as a leader and scientist, and to sustain JAX’s excellence as a leader in cancer research.”
The David E. Shaw Family Endowed Chair for Innovation
Additionally, David E. Shaw, chair emeritus of the JAX Board of Trustees, has committed $1.5 million, which will also be matched by JAX, to establish The David E. Shaw Family Endowed Chair for Innovation in honor of Liu and Kenneth “Ken” Paigen, Ph.D. (1927 – 2020). Paigen served as the Laboratory’s director (the role now designated president and CEO) from 1989 to 2003.
The David E. Shaw Family Endowed Chair for Innovation supports a leader who will provide critical guidance to JAX faculty members to translate their basic science innovations to human impact especially through commercialization in line with the mission of JAX.
“My family and I wanted to do something special to show our love for JAX and in particular, to honor Ed Liu and Ken Paigen for the spirit of innovation that characterized their leadership,” said Shaw. “This chair will provide enduring support and inspiration for entrepreneurship at JAX, and we hope it will contribute significantly to future success in translating JAX’s amazing work into products and services that benefit the world.”
The Robert Alvine Family Endowed Chair
Robert Alvine , chair emeritus of the JAX Board of Trustees, has committed $1.5 million, to be matched by JAX, to establish The Robert Alvine Family Endowed Chair in honor of Liu and Auro Nair, Ph.D., executive vice president of The Jackson Laboratory and president, JAX® Mice, Clinical and Research Services . The gift will permanently endow the scientific leadership position in the State of Connecticut at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Conn. Charles Lee, Ph.D., FACMG, scientific director and professor at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, has been named chairholder.
Researchers at the Farmington facility focus on human genomics, complementing the Laboratory’s long history of mammalian genetics expertise. JAX Genomic Medicine, which opened in 2014 next to the UConn Health campus, facilitates clinical collaboration with Connecticut’s many universities and hospitals. Scientists at the campus investigate many aspects of human genomics and disease, including immune response, cancer genomics, the microbiome, genome structure, computational modeling and more.
“I have great admiration for all that Ed, Auro, Charles, and the entire team at JAX have accomplished, and I am proud to have been among the first donors to provide philanthropic support for Ed Liu’s cancer research at JAX and for the chair named in his honor, now held by the director of the JAX Cancer Center,” said Alvine. “As Connecticut residents, my family and I are especially proud of the impact JAX is having here in the state, and we are delighted that the Alvine Family Chair will be held by Charles Lee in his role as the scientific leader of JAX Genomic Medicine in Farmington.”
In March, the Laboratory announced the appointment of three faculty members to The Bernard and Lusia Milch Endowed Chair , The Ann Watson Symington Chair in Addiction Research and The Florine Deschenes Roux Chair for Genomics and Computational Biology in order to further research into Alzheimer’s disease, addiction, cancer and computational biology. These gifts build on JAX’s philanthropic momentum in 2020, which was a record-breaking year for fundraising with more than $21 million raised in support of the Laboratory’s mission. JAX donors made transformational gifts towards vision research , the Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative , COVID-19 research , STEM education and more.