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Harvard University Receives $131 Million Gift for Wyss Institute

Harvard University has received a $131 million gift to support its Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, the school announced on Friday.

The institute, which was founded in 2009, focuses on high-risk research and technology development to create new materials and devices that will transform medicine and create a more sustainable world while bridging the gap between academia and industry.

Donated by Harvard alumnus and Swiss entrepreneur Hansjörg Wyss, who earlier contributed $125 million to establish the institute, the latest gift will further the progress made over the last decade and sustain the institute’s leadership in the field of biologically-inspired engineering.

“When talented, creative people are given the freedom to work together across disciplines, there are few problems they cannot solve,” Wyss said in a statement. “In the last decade, the Wyss Institute has made breakthrough after breakthrough to improve medicine and to apply the latest science to the betterment of peoples’ lives.”

Wyss is also the founder of Synthes USA, a medical research and design company based in Pennsylvania.

To date, the institute has collaborated with various industries, filed 2,600 patents, created 29 startups and signed 53 licensing agreements. The institute has also achieved breakthroughs in cancer vaccines, human organs-on-chips, synthetic biology-enabled molecular diagnostics and robotic exosuits for stroke rehabilitation.

“From developing singular insights and cutting edge approaches, to creating bioinspired materials and feats of engineering, the Wyss Institute had and will continue to have a powerful impact,” Alan Garber, Harvard University provost, said.

Wyss has given more than $400 million in total to the university over the years. Last year, in a New York Times op-ed, he pledged to give $1 billion over the next decade to protect 30 percent of the planet’s surface by 2030 by accelerating land and ocean conservation efforts around the world.

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