Jim and Marilyn Simons granted Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) a gift of $50 million to establish a new center in their names. The Simons Center for Quantitative Biology, as it will be called, will aim to support research and education programs as well as bring together experts in applied mathematics, computer science, theoretical physics, and engineering to further research and investigation into illnesses including cancer, autism, bipolar disorder, and depression.
Adam Siepel, Ph.D., from Cornell University will chair the new center. Dr. Siepel, who also directs the Ph.D. program in Computational Biology and is associate director of the Cornell Center for Comparative and Population Genomics, will join CSHL in September. The center’s faculty will include Gurinder Atwal, Ph.D., Ivan Iossifov, Ph.D., Justin Kinney, Ph.D., Alexei Koulakov, Ph.D., Alexander Krasnitz, Ph.D., Dan Levy, Ph.D., Partha P. Mitra, Ph.D., and Michael Schatz, Ph.D.
In addition to being a philanthropist and hedge fund manager, Jim Simons was chairman of the mathematics department at Stony Brook University and taught mathematics at MIT and Harvard. He is credited with the discovery and application of the Chern-Simons invariants, which are used in theoretical physics. His wife Marilyn Hawrys Simons is president of the Simons Foundation, treasurer of the board of the Learning Spring School (a school in New York City for children aged 5–14 with diagnoses on the autism spectrum), and a member of the board of trustees at the East Harlem Tutorial Program, an after-school program.
"We are proud to provide financial support that allows this institution to recruit outstanding scientists like Dr. Siepel to pursue the most innovative research in cancer, neurobiology, genomics, and quantitative biology," Marilyn Simons said in a statement. "I am confident that our gifts to CSHL will lead to a deeper understanding of our world and greatly benefit mankind."