immune system
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A $100 million gift from Gene Lay, the founder and CEO of antibody and reagents company BioLegend, will establish The Gene Lay Institute of Immunology and Inflammation of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Other organizations involved with the new institute include Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School (HMS).

Vijay Kuchroo, PhD, an immunologist and principal investigator at Brigham and Women’s has been named director of the institute with Arlene Sharpe, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Immunology at HMS, and Ramnik Xavier, director of the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology at Mass General, named as the institute’s vice directors.

“I have always been fascinated by the immune system’s ability to heal the body and I’ve had a longstanding relationship with and respect for the scientists in the Harvard medical community, who played an instrumental role in my career,” said Lay in a press release announcing the gift, which was made through the Laygend Foundation. “With this gift, I am bringing together the best scientific minds I know to translate research discoveries into therapies for immune-mediated diseases rooted in chronic inflammation.”

The institute aims to leverage the strength in immunology and inflammation research within the Boston community as well as through relationships with HMS-affiliated immunology and biomedical experts. The institute will be built around three central areas of inquiry: basic science, translational science, and technology. Research will focus on broadening the basic understanding of immune-mediated diseases, aging, and cancer—and will seek to leverage findings to aid in the development of new immunotherapies. The institute will also provide opportunities for students and fellows to deepen their work in immunology.

“During the past several decades, the astounding rise in inflammatory diseases has made it increasingly clear that chronic inflammation is a root cause of many diseases—not only allergies and autoimmune diseases, but also cancer, neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases,” said Kuchroo. “This transformative gift and investment will allow some of the best immunologists of our time to address this epidemic head-on and build new knowledge to promote basic understanding for preventing and treating immune-mediated diseases.”

George Q. Daley, dean of HMS said: “As we’ve seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, collaboration across institutions, disciplines, and modes of scientific inquiry is key to addressing our most confounding scientific and medical challenges. We’re deeply grateful for this opportunity to convene the best immunologists in the world to bring solutions to patients and families.”

Brigham and Women’s Hospital is a teaching affiliate of HMS and has approximately 5,000 scientists, physicians-investigators, researchers, and faculty supported by nearly $750 million in funding.

Lay founded BioLegend in 2002 and today serves the global life sciences community by developing and producing high-quality antibodies, proteins, as well as assays for cellular immunity, inflammation, cancer, stem cells, and other reagents. The company is now part of Revvity, Inc., whose formation was announced earlier this week as PerkinElmer spun off its pharma services and diagnostics business. The company also includes well-known life sciences brands including Cisbio, Horizon Discovery, and Omni International, among others.

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