Our Donors

Some recent donors to the Institute include:

Trustee Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation have donated $20 million to the Campaign to permanently endow the Directorship of the Institute for Advanced Study.

This gift reflects continued support of the Institute by Trustee Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation, which was created on the death of Ms. White’s husband, Leon Levy, a leading financier who served on the Institute’s Board of Trustees for 15 years and as Vice Chairman and President of the Corporation from 1995–2003.

“This magnificent gift from the Leon Levy Foundation will help to further strengthen the Institute’s endowment, which is essential to our continued success as a research institution of the highest standard,” said Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director of the Institute and Leon Levy Professor. “Shelby White’s and the Foundation’s stalwart support has sustained important areas of research at the Institute, including the formation of an archives center and program, and this most recent donation moves us closer to our $200 million campaign goal. I am honored to be the first to hold the new endowed Directorship.”

Ms. White, founding Trustee of the Leon Levy Foundation, said, “My husband would have been proud to have the Institute directorship named in his honor. He was a great believer in the Institute’s mission and work, and he, personally, devoted many hours to its success. The Foundation is pleased that it can continue to support the Institute’s important initiatives.”

This major gift will be increased by $5 million from the $100 million challenge grant made by the Simons Foundation and the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences in 2011 to create a $25 million Leon Levy Endowment Fund. In recognition of the gift, the Institute Director will carry a new title and titular professorship, Director and Leon Levy Professor, which will be permanently associated with the position. This donation brings the capital campaign total to nearly $48 million, of a $100 million goal to meet the challenge grant from the Simons Foundation and Simonyi Fund.

The Leon Levy Foundation has continually supported the Institute in significant ways. The New Initiatives Fund established by Mr. Levy and Ms. White in 1998 helped to promote progress in new and important programs such as systems biology and theoretical computer science, and to support emerging research in mathematics and astrophysics. Since the 2005–06 academic year, the Foundation has sponsored a Leon Levy Member in the School of Social Science. Past Leon Levy Members have included economists and political scientists who, through the support of the Foundation, have also delivered lectures on the nature of their work while in residence at the Institute. The Foundation funded the new landscaping of the courtyard entrance to Fuld Hall, completed in 2009, as well as other landscape improvements, and it supported a historic landscape study to fully understand the development of the Institute’s campus. A $3.5 million gift from the Foundation in 2009 funded the creation of the Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, which is enabling the conservation and collection of the Institute’s current and future holdings of records and historical documents, Faculty papers, oral histories, photographs and other significant documentation.

A $7.5 million Starr Foundation grant will enable permanent endowment of a Professorship and Memberships in biology.

The grant provides the resources necessary to secure the Simons Center for Systems Biology as a leading center for research and postdoctoral training in the quantitative biology essential to scientific advances that are revolutionizing biology and medicine. It completes the second of two challenge grants from the Simons Foundation intended to establish a permanent endowment for the Simons Center for Systems Biology in the School of Natural Sciences to cover the core costs of its program. The Starr Foundation grant also counts toward the $100 million capital campaign challenge made by the Simons Foundation and the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences in 2011. The Institute will add $7.5 million from the challenge grant to create a $15 million endowment to support a named Professorship and three Memberships in biology.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Starr Foundation for its generous endorsement of the Institute’s work in theoretical biology,” said Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director of the Institute and Leon Levy Professor. “This grant will enable the Institute to continue to attract the best scientists in the field, advance research into today’s biological complexities and chart new territory.”

This grant complements the Starr Foundation’s existing far-reaching achievements in supporting biomedical research.

“Research in the fields of genomics, stem cells and neuroscience has increased in complexity, but that complexity creates opportunities,” said Maurice R. Greenberg, Chairman of the Starr Foundation. “It is exciting to see the collaborations among biologists, physicists, mathematicians and chemists as they forge new paths to understanding diseases and possible cures. That is what our grantmaking is about: fostering the exploration and development of new opportunities.”

The Institute’s unparalleled international standing in mathematics and theoretical physics places the Simons Center in a unique position to facilitate the development of theoretical and quantitative research in biology. In the last decade, the Center has enabled a number of outstanding scientists to move into the forefront of the field and make an indelible impact at leading academic institutions and research laboratories around the world. The Center was established in 2005 by Arnold J. Levine, now Professor Emeritus in the School of Natural Sciences, and was named for James H. Simons and his wife, Marilyn Hawrys Simons. Stanislas Leibler, a Professor in the School of Natural Sciences who holds a faculty position jointly at the Institute and the Rockefeller University, is working in the field of theoretical and experimental biology. His work extends the interface between physics and biology to create new solutions and approaches to fundamental biological problems. Leibler and his colleagues are developing an understanding of biological functions on more abstract mathematical level—in one set of studies, they are investigating patterns of gene evolution that suggest how different parts of proteins interact.

Also at the Center, Faculty and Members are actively engaged in a number of areas of cancer research, including identifying the role genes play in the origins of cancers and the metabolism of cancer cells, developing strategies to profile specific cancers and exploring means to improve cancer prevention and treatment strategies. Studies also include path-breaking analyses of viruses, in particular the influenza genome and evolutionary changes that are the result of selection pressures in both virus and host. The Center also is engaged in a four-year collaborative study, Autism and Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in the IGF Pathway, which investigates the frequency of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in selected genes that populate the interrelated signal transduction pathways in individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Currently, two distinguished biologists, John Hopfield of Princeton University and Albert Libchaber of Rockefeller University, are serving as Visiting Professors at the Center and are actively working with Members and others on key biological problems related to the dynamics of complex systems. With the addition of these grants to its endowment, the Center will be able to support the research of three permanent Professors and a total of up to fourteen Members or Visiting Professors.

About the Starr Foundation

The Starr Foundation was established in 1955 by Cornelius Vander Starr, an insurance entrepreneur who founded C.V. Starr & Co. and other companies later combined by his successor, Maurice R. Greenberg, into what became the American International Group, Inc. Mr. Starr, a pioneer of global business, set up his first insurance venture in Shanghai in 1919. He died in 1968 at the age of 76, leaving his estate to the Foundation. The Foundation currently has assets of approximately $1.25 billion, making it one of the largest private foundations in the United States. It makes grants in a number of areas, including education, medicine and healthcare, human needs, public policy, culture and the environment.

A $3 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support one-year fellowships for assistant professors in the Institute’s School of Historical Studies.

The Institute for Advanced Study has received a $3 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support one-year fellowships for assistant professors in the Institute’s School of Historical Studies. The donation will be matched by $3 million funded from the $100 million challenge grant provided by the Simons Foundation and the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences to initiate the Institute’s current $200 million campaign to strengthen its endowment. This will create a $6 million Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships for Assistant Professors Fund to provide a permanent endowment for fellowships to enable early career scholars to work at the Institute at a critical point in their careers.

The Mellon Foundation has been funding fellowships at the Institute for historians in the early stages of their careers since 1996. The new grant will provide stable and secure funding for the program, enabling future generations of scholars to benefit from the Institute’s unique environment, where they are free to pursue long-term goals away from the teaching and administrative demands of university positions, and to interact with the Institute's permanent Faculty and other more senior colleagues.

“The Institute is deeply grateful to the Mellon Foundation for its commitment to this fellowship program over many years, and for now providing a generous grant that will secure its permanent endowment,” said Peter Goddard, Director of the Institute. “The Foundation’s support has enabled scholars of exceptional promise to hold fellowships at the Institute, greatly strengthening our academic community and enhancing their own development as historians.”

Since the inception of the program, some 44 scholars have benefitted from the Mellon Foundation fellowships for assistant professors. These fellows have come from many institutions and a diverse range of fields of historical study. Vimalin Rujivacharakul, a current Mellon Fellow who came to the Institute as an Assistant Professor at the University of Delaware, has used her time at the Institute to develop a complex study of a set of pictorial diaries of a Japanese architectural historian who traveled the world at the turn of the twentieth century. “A transdisciplinary project like this is normally a challenge to launch, especially for an early career scholar with a full-time teaching responsibility,” said Rujivacharakul, who has now been promoted to Associate Professor. “Not only did the Mellon fellowship enable me to take a yearlong leave to work on this project, but it also allowed me to gain access to excellent research resources. I have also been inspired by ideas garnered at seminars and lunchtime conversations; some sparked new perspectives and some redefined my original thinking.”

Many former Mellon Fellows recall their time at the Institute as key to the development of their courses of study and their careers. “My time at the IAS was one of the most intellectually stimulating and productive periods of my life,” said Lauren Minsky, an Assistant Professor at New York University Abu Dhabi and a recent Mellon Fellow. “My fellowship allowed me the crucial opportunity to research, think, read and reflect for a full year without the teaching and administrative commitments that come with regular academic life. I also had the invaluable opportunity to interact with other scholars from a wide range of fields and disciplines as colleagues and friends. It is impossible to fully express just how important and meaningful this opportunity was.”

About the Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, formed in 1969 by the consolidation of foundations established by the children of Andrew W. Mellon, supports five core program areas: higher education and scholarship; scholarly communications and information technology; art history, conservation and museums; the performing arts; and conservation and the environment. The Foundation develops thoughtful, long-term collaborations with grant recipients and invests sufficient funds for an extended period to accomplish the purpose at hand and achieve meaningful results.

Dr. S.T. Lee of the Lee Pineapple Company, Singapore has established the Dr. Lee Seng Tee Fund for Historical Studies to ensure that the Institute can hold important international symposiums and workshops with associated public lectures as a key component.

Recognized as a great philanthropist, Dr. Lee, through the Lee Foundation, supports institutions of higher education around the world. He has been recognized for his support of libraries worldwide, including the Needham Research Institute at the University of Cambridge and the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. He has funded projects and lecture series at universities, including Columbia, Harvard and Stanford, as well as the University of Sydney, Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and the University of Singapore. He is also a benefactor of the Chinese Chess Association.

At the IAS, Dr. Lee’s endowed fund supports symposia, workshops, and associated public lectures. The fund established by Dr. Lee has resulted in many benefits to the Institute, not least of which is the exchange of ideas between different disciplines represented within the School, and enabling scholars to come to the Institute from around the world to engage in deep discussions of emerging developments, in areas of historical studies where exciting progress is being made.

With this success has come an increased demand by our Faculty for funds to expand the scope and numer of colloquia. In response, we recently submitted a proposal to Dr. Lee suggesting that he double the amount of money in his endowed fund, and benefit from this being a particularly auspicious time to make a gift to the Institute. (With the launch of the Campaign for the Institute, the Simons Foundation and the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences generously provided a $100 million challenge grant. This challenge grant can be used, at the discretion of Director Robbert Dijkgraaf, to match contributions to endowed funds.)

Dr. Lee thoughtfully considered our proposal and agreed that a further donation at this time would both advance our mission and increase public awareness of some of the most important historical issues of our time. He generously made a further gift to double the amount of money in the Dr. Lee Seng Tee Fund for Historical Studies, and this was matched by the challenge grant—effectively tripling the fund and tripling the annual income available to the School of Historical Studies.

Dr. Lee is a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2001) and an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy (1998).