Dr. Raymond and Beverly Sackler Fund New Institute for Biological, Physical, and Engineering Sciences

Yale biochemist Lynne Regan and engineer Eric Dufresne have collaborated with Tijana Grove, a postdoctoral associate in biology, and Jason Foster, a graduate student in engineering, to create novel nanomaterials that respond to stimuli, as shown in the schematics. The Sackler Institute will facilitate a broad spectrum of innovations across the fields of engineering, physics, and biology.

Research collaboration among scientists working in the traditionally unrelated fields of biology, physics, and engineering has gained new momentum at Yale, thanks to a gift from Dr. Raymond and Beverly Sackler.

“As a physician, I have believed that biomedical research could be accelerated by the application of tools routinely used by physicists and engineers,” Dr. Sackler said.

Leading researchers from three different faculties at Yale—the School of Medicine, the School of Engineering & Applied Science, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences—will be brought together through the programs of the new Sackler Institute for Biological, Physical, and Engineering Sciences. Dr. Lynne Regan, who holds professorships in molecular biophysics and biochemistry as well as chemistry, has been appointed by the provost to be the first director of the institute.

The institute will be organized around several overlapping and interconnected research areas. Each multidisciplinary group will address different aspects of a common goal: predicting biological behavior at the molecular, cellular, and whole organism levels.

The institute will fund graduate fellowships for students interested in pursuing Ph.D. degrees that straddle the physical and life sciences, visiting scholars to bring faculty to Yale from other institutions engaged in interdisciplinary research, and intensive short courses in the summer to teach the multiple techniques that are used across the different disciplines.

“The Sackler Institute will bring together faculty from departments across the University and enable transformative research and teaching initiatives,” Dr. Regan said. “We are very excited by the new opportunities this gift brings to Yale.”

The donors, who have a longstanding interest in interdisciplinary science, were drawn to Yale’s track record for collaborative research. “I have had valuable experiences at various universities in and outside the United States with scientists in the physical and biologic areas,” Dr. Sackler said. “Several years ago, we established an Institute of Biophysics at Tel Aviv University, which has led to collaborative, innovative, and productive research amongst the physical, biological, and engineering disciplines.”

Interdisciplinary research has been a major focus of Yale’s science, medicine, and engineering efforts, according to President Richard C. Levin.

“The timing of this gift is perfect,” Levin said. “The Sackler Institute will provide a tremendous boost to the cross-disciplinary interactions that have been growing at Yale among physical scientists, engineers, and life scientists. There is great potential in research and education that crosses the traditional boundaries of departments and disciplines.”

(November 4, 2008)

November 4, 2008