An Old Friend of Harvard Medical School Kicks in Another $20 Million

New friends are like silver and old friends gold, the poem tells us. And Harvard Medical School's old friends are like a very large amount of gold.  

The Warren Alpert Foundation recently announced a $20 million gift to Harvard Medical School (HMS), continuing a relationship that goes back to the family foundation's start. In 1987, the year after its establishment, Alpert and HMS created the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize. Administered by HMS, the $500,000 award is given each year to researchers and physicians who have made important advances in medicine.

The Providence, Rhode Island-based Alpert foundation, which focuses on support for medical research, previously donated $20 million to Harvard and another $1 million to Harvard's Tosteson Medical Education Center. But it had been some 25 years since any other major gifts to HMS, according to the foundation, despite their ongoing collaboration on the Alpert foundation prize.

Alpert's new $20 million gift to HMS has three components. A $5 million chunk will endow a professorship in the Department of Health Care Policy. Another $7.5 million will establish the Warren Alpert Foundation Discovery Fund for Immunologic Research. The remaining $7.5 million will establish the Warren Alpert Foundation Dean’s Leadership Fund, to advance the school’s priorities and strategic needs.

Alpert himself, who died in 2007, made his money in oil and food products, and at the time of his death in 2007, was sole owner of Warren Equities, ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the country's 500 largest private companies.

The Alpert Foundation has also been a pal to other medical institutions in the northeast. In 1999,  it donated $15 million to Mount Sinai Hospital, and in 2007 gave a tidy $100 million to its neighbor in Providence, the medical school at Brown University.

By the way, the 2015 Warren Alpert Foundation Prize mentioned above is going to Dr. Ruth Nussenzweig, Dr. Victor Nussenzweig, and Professor Tu Youyou, for their pioneering discoveries in chemistry and parasitology, and their work to translate those discoveries into vaccines and treatments for malaria. The foundation accepts nominations from physicians and scientists in academia, research centers, government and other biomedical institutions around the world.