Research Symposium Celebrates New Sackler Institute

At the inaugural Sackler Symposium are (left to right) Nobel laureate Martin Chalfie of Columbia University, Yale University Provost Peter Salovey, Beverly Sackler, Raymond Sackler, and Lynne Regan, director of the Sackler Institute.

On October 16, Yale dedicated the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Institute for Biological, Physical, and Engineering Sciences. A “center without walls,” the Institute was conceived to foster collaborative research and teaching at the interface of the physical and biological sciences and has attracted faculty members from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering & Applied Science, and the School of Medicine. Dr. Lynne Regan, who holds joint appointments in molecular biophysics, biochemistry, and chemistry, serves as director.

The dedication was celebrated in concert with the first international Sackler Symposium. Held on the West Campus, the event welcomed 150 students, faculty, and staff from Yale and other universities and honored Raymond and Beverly Sackler for their founding gift.

At present, the Institute has over twenty-five affiliated faculty members from twelve departments, and current initiatives include four sponsored programs: the Sackler Undergraduate Summer Fellowships, the Sackler Discussion Group, the Sackler Symposium, and the Sackler Graduate Fellowships, awarded within the Integrated Graduate Program for Physical and Engineering Biology. Plans for the future include seed funding for faculty research and an integrated workshop for graduate students.

A Model for Science in the Next Decade

Raymond Sackler addresses Symposium participants during lunch.In keeping with the donors’ focus on interdisciplinary science, the Sackler Symposium’s agenda featured a distinguished panel of world-renowned speakers who are leaders in using integrated approaches to study biological science. During the morning and afternoon sessions, they lectured on topics such as E. coli motility, control of stem cell differentiation for the development of targeted therapies, and stochastic gene expression and the consequences on cellular function.

At lunch, the Sacklers were recognized for their leadership support. University Provost Peter Salovey said, “The Sackler Institute is a model for science in the next decade, and it is wonderful to dedicate it here at the newest wing of Yale’s campus—the West Campus.” He expressed the University’s gratitude and added that he and President Richard C. Levin are proud of what the Institute means for Yale, for cutting-edge research, and for science education. 

A highlight of the lunch included a speech from Noble laureate Martin Chalfie, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor at Columbia University. Chalfie referred to himself as the poster child for interdisciplinary work—he chairs a department of biological sciences and received a Nobel Prize in chemistry—and said that collaborative institutes are needed to engage experts who are coming to biology from all different fields. During the afternoon session, he also gave the keynote lecture, “GFP: The Other Green Revolution,” which explored his Nobel Prize-winning work.

Following Professor Chalfie’s comments, Dr. Regan presented the Sacklers with a gift on behalf of the University, and Raymond Sackler addressed the guests. He thanked the Symposium participants and said, “This is an inspirational preamble in the life history of the Institute.”

The day’s program also featured a poster session that highlighted current research by Symposium attendees, postdoctoral fellows, and students in the Integrated Graduate Program in Physical and Engineering Biology. The program endeavors to train a new generation of scientists to employ concepts from engineering and physics in biomedical research, and outstanding participants are recognized as Sackler Graduate Fellows. The first group of Ph.D. candidates began matriculating at Yale this fall.

(October 30, 2009)

October 30, 2009