MIT and Harvard Receive $180 Million in Grants for Cancer Research

The grants come from Ludwig Cancer Research, which has two centers in Massachusetts.

MIT and Harvard each received $90 million from Ludwig Cancer Research, on behalf of its founder Daniel K. Ludwig, which will provide funding to transform basic research on metastasis, the process by which cancer cells spread from a primary tumor to distant sites in the body.

The six Ludwig Centers in the U.S. (Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago) received a total of $540 million, which will be divided equally. The new funding is one of the largest private philanthropic gifts to cancer research, the Ludwig Center announced Monday.

“This extraordinary gift comes at a remarkable time in the 40-year history of cancer research at MIT. The Koch Institute is pioneering a new approach that unites scientists and engineers in a multidisciplinary fight against cancer,” MIT President, L. Rafael Reif said in a press release. “Central to this effort is basic research to understand the causes and mechanisms of the disease. Ludwig’s generosity will support our efforts to answer two critical questions: how cancer spreads in the body and what we can do to stop it.”

Massachusetts is the only state to have two Ludwig Centers, one at Harvard and one at MIT. “This gift provides a momentous opportunity for the entire Harvard Medical School community to glean new insights into the basic biology of cancer as well as to accelerate the translation of basic research to improve patient outcomes,” Jeffrey S. Flier, dean of the faculty of medicine at Harvard University, said in a press release. “We recognize that Daniel and Virginia Ludwig were powerful advocates for excellence in cancer research. We at Harvard Medical School are grateful to them for their generosity and their vision, and are committed to honoring their legacy by defining the best strategic use of these new funds to advance the fight against cancer.”

Joan Brugge, the co-director of the Ludwig Center at Harvard says that over the last few decades researchers have done an great job of dissecting cancer through many lines of investigation. “Now, we need to develop new and innovative ways to integrate that accumulated knowledge in order to create new and more effective cancer therapies,” Brugge says. “Through the generosity of Ludwig Cancer Research, we will be able to bring together a diverse cross-section of experts throughout the Harvard cancer community, breaking down barriers that have all too often impeded the integration of knowledge and the kind of transformational advances required to develop new and effective therapies. I am thrilled to be a part of such an exciting collaboration.”

According to the press release, the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research has distributed more than $2 billion in grants worldwide:

This most recent gift, adding to the endowments established in 2006 to support the Ludwig Centers at each of the six institutions, brings the total to $900 million. In 1971, Mr. Ludwig also endowed the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research with his international holdings. Today, the Ludwig Institute supports approximately 600 scientists around the world. Together, Ludwig Cancer Research has made worldwide contributions totaling $2.5 billion to advance cancer research.