Newswise — Ellen and Melvin Gordon have made a donation of $25 million toward the University of Chicago's largest science building, constructed to exacting standards so that scientists could pursue innovative research that crosses the traditional boundaries between physics, chemistry and biology.
"I am pleased to announce that the university's largest and most technologically advanced building will henceforth be known as the Ellen and Melvin Gordon Center for Integrative Science," said University of Chicago President Don M. Randel. "We are proud to firmly link the Gordon family name with an ambitious research program that will extend into the scientific and biomedical frontiers of the 21st century."
Ellen Gordon is president of Tootsie Roll Industries, and Melvin Gordon is chairman of the board. The Gordons serve on boards of several philanthropic institutions. Ellen Gordon also holds memberships on a variety of advisory councils in higher education, business and the community, including the Visiting Committee to the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago since 1994.
"We all dream of a day," Mrs. Gordon said, "when there is less suffering and pain in the world. Thanks to institutions like the University of Chicago we have made enormous progress toward that day, but there is still much more to do. In business, Melvin and I look for the best return on our investment. In philanthropy, we also look for the best return and are therefore pleased to be a part of this wondrous collaborative research that can make life better for many people."
Second in size only to the University's Joseph Regenstein Library, the Gordon Center encompasses 400,000 square feet at 929 E. 57th St. The building was designed according to strict specifications to control cleanliness, temperature, sound and other environmental factors needed to do cutting-edge experimental science in the 21st century.
Once fully occupied, the building will bring together 100 senior scientists, along with 700 additional researchers and students. Scientists began moving into the building last June.
Much of the research done at the Gordon Center will occur at the nanoscale, the scale of atoms and molecules. At this scale, many problems in biology, physics and chemistry all merge. Occupying the heart of the building to tackle these problems will be the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, which was jointly founded in 1998 by the Divisions of Biological and Physical Sciences. Work within the institute could influence developments as diverse as molecular-based computing techniques to more effective cancer treatments.
Also gaining laboratory and office space in the Gordon Center and pursuing similar sorts of often-converging lines of research will be the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Ben May Cancer Research Institute, the Chemistry Department, and the James Franck Institute.
"This generous gift will support research of a kind that reflects the core values of our University— innovative discovery crossing disciplinary boundaries and unmasking ideas of sufficient size and quality to create new paradigms of thought," said James Madara, M.D., Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago. "Work in the Ellen and Melvin Gordon Center for Integrative Science will produce unexpected discoveries that will enrich our understanding of both the biological and the physical sciences, but, most importantly, revolutionize how we think about the space in between and what this means to the citizens of our nation."
Said Robert Fefferman, Dean of the Physical Sciences: "We are gratified by Ellen and Melvin Gordon's investment in basic research at the University of Chicago. The researchers working in this impressive new building will write the next chapter in the University's long tradition of scientific interdisciplinary research. Here they will help train the next generation of leading scientists, and lay the foundation for tomorrow's medical and technological breakthroughs."