MIT received a pledge for $350 million yesterday to create a new institute on brain research, the largest single gift to a university ever. The institute will focus on the way humans learn and communicate.
"[This] will launch one of the most profound and important scientific ventures of the next century and what surely will be a cornerstone of MIT's scientific contributions in the decades ahead," said MIT President Charles M. Vest in a press release.
The gift, pledged jointly by Patrick J. McGovern Jr., a 1959 graduate in biophysics from MIT and member of the MIT Corporation, and his wife Lore Harp McGovern, will be paid over the next 20 years to the university.
The previous largest donation to a university was a $300 million gift in 1998 to Vanderbilt University, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The largest single gift ever given to Harvard is a donation of $75.5 million in 1982.
Officials envision the institute as an interdisciplinary establishment. The institute's scope will include neuroscience, molecular neurobiology, bioengineering, cognitive sciences, computation and genetics, according to its mission statement. The institute plans to heavily use new technology that allows views of the brain never before possible.
MIT officials said research of the brain has great ability to improve human health and quality of life. They also say that institute will offer opportunities for undergraduate and graduate student to work with the program.
The new institute will be named the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. Its founding director will be MIT professor Phillip A. Sharp, former chair of the MIT biology department and a 1993 Nobel laureate in medicine.
MIT plans to construct a new building to house the program.
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