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Swiss Philanthropist Gifts $75 Million to Harvard Medical School

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Ernestro Bertarelli, who holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, will gift $75 million to Harvard Medical School.
Entrepreneur and philanthropist Ernestro Bertarelli, who holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, will gift $75 million to Harvard Medical School. By Pei Chao Zhuo
By Marina Qu and Ammy M. Yuan, Crimson Staff Writers

Ernesto Bertarelli, an entrepreneur and philanthropist from Switzerland, will gift $75 million to Harvard Medical School through his family foundation, according to a Monday press release.

Harvard will name Building C – the last unnamed building in the Medical School – the Bertarelli Building. Bertarelli’s gift marks the second large donation that HMS has received this year, adding to the $50 million donation establishing the Paul Farmer Collaborative last month.

Bertarelli earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1993, and he is currently the chair of the HMS Board of Fellows, which serves as an external advisory body to the school’s leaders. He was an executive of the biotech company Serono, maker of the multiple sclerosis drug Rebif. Currently, he serves as the chairman of the private investment firm B-FLEXION.

Bertarelli called HMS a “world leader” in terms of innovation and research in the press release.

“It has been my honor to have been a partner of the School for over two decades, and I am delighted to continue to support the HMS community in its important work by helping to modernize these landmark facilities to keep pace with therapeutics innovation,” Bertarelli said in the release.

Bertarelli’s foundation has made multiple donations to the University in recent decades, helping to establish a Medical School program and a professorship in translational medicine. His sister Dona Bertarelli, co-founder of the Bertarelli Foundation, gifted $15 million in 2019 towards rare cancers research at HMS.

HMS Dean George Q. Daley ’82 called Bertarelli an “ardent supporter” of the research conducted at the Longwood campus in the press release.

“He understands that in order to improve the health and well-being of patients, we must first support observations in the lab and then nurture and orient them toward interventions in the clinic,” Daley said. “It is therefore fitting that the Bertarelli name will be inscribed in the marble of the building that personifies our commitment to both basic and therapeutic science.”

The donation will kickstart the plan to convert the outdoor courtyard in Building C to an open and skylit atrium. Construction is set to begin this year and finish in 2025.

Building C currently houses two departments and serves as the center of the HMS Therapeutics Initiative, which was created to establish a pipeline for therapeutic development, from medicine discovery to regulatory approval.

“I am honored that the Bertarelli name will become a permanent and prominent part of the Medical School’s quadrangle,” University President Lawrence S. Bacow said in the press release.

—Staff writer Marina Qu can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MingyiQu.

—Staff writer Ammy M. Yuan can be reached at

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