Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy, have given $150 million to a research institute to establish a “new era of biology” aimed at battling diseases with a mix of data and life science studies, shared TechExplore. 

The Massachusetts-based Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard will use these funds to build a new centre that will bring together academia and industry to merge the two disciplines. The Broad Institute said in a statement:

“Until now, these fields have largely developed in parallel. Their convergence will create a new era of biology, one that is expected to yield a deep understanding of biological processes, with the ultimate aim of improving human health through more powerful disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.”

Experts say the initiative sets a precedent for building more research centres that mix the two disciplines. Peng Qiu, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology who studies the subject said:

“There is a huge need in the biology field to bring in computational and data science expertise. The need for integrating the two fields has been well recognized in the research community.”

This gift is the largest donation the couple has given, featuring their latest philanthropic initiative focusing on science and technology. The institute said that it also received an additional $150 million contribution from the Broad Foundation. Schmidt noted:

“The pandemic has shown us that prioritizing science, innovation, and research is one of the greatest investments we can make in our future.”

The centre, which will be named after the Schmidts, will collaborate with experts from numerous fields at companies ranging from Google, Microsoft and AstraZeneca, and learning institutions including Oxford University and the Mayo Clinic. R. Patrick Bixler, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service said:

“Philanthropic gifts of this magnitude have the potential to be transformative in scientific discovery.”

Schmidt served as Google’s CEO from 2001 to 2011, a time of rapid growth for the California-based technology company. He later became executive chairman for Google.

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