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Remarks of President Lawrence H. Summers for launch of the Broad Institute

Whitehead Institute, Cambridge

This is an exciting day. Biology and medicine, along with information science and engineering, are approaching a new frontier, and Harvard and MIT are joining forces to explore it together. We are very grateful to Eli and Edythe Broad for making this venture possible. It holds unusual promise, both for science and for human health.

When the history of our era is written, the fundamental understanding we have gained of human nature through genomics and all that follows from that understanding will be one of the major stories. For the first time, it is now within reach to respond to disease not by examining and treating symptoms but by understanding and interfering with disease processes at the molecular level.

This is new and important science, and maximizing its potential will require that it be carried on in new ways. That is why Harvard is so pleased to be collaborating with our affiliated hospitals, MIT, and the Whitehead in this venture. The Broad Institute will operate at the scale necessary to deal with literally billions of pieces of data, while at the same time maintaining the flexibility to rapidly go down the most promising research pathways as they are opened up. It will bring together investigators with many scientific perspectives – biology, computer science, engineering, clinical medicine – but all will share a common focus on the application of genomics to medical problems.

Scale and flexibility, many perspectives but a common focus – these will be important strengths of the Broad Institute. But its greatest resource will be the scientific talent at the founding institutions on which it will draw. I am convinced that there is no other city in the world with as many extraordinary scientists at every level, from undergraduates to senior faculty investigators, prepared to work on biomedical problems.

On behalf of Harvard, I want to thank all of the people who are part of this venture, including the people on this stage. I am especially grateful to Eric Lander, who as part of our collaboration will, in addition to his other roles, become a professor at Harvard Medical School this fall, and to Stuart Schreiber, Todd Golub, and David Altshuler – current Harvard faculty who will play key roles at the Institute.

Finally, I want to again express my gratitude to Eli and Edythe Broad for making all of this possible. This is a great day, for our universities, for this city, for science, and ultimately for human health.