Harvard Banks Record $125M Donation for New “Biologically Inspired Engineering” Institute

Xconomy Boston — 

Harvard University has received a gift of $125 million from billionaire philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss to support the formation of a new research institute for biological engineering, The Harvard Crimson reports.

The Crimson called the gift the largest in Harvard’s history, topping what had been a record donation of $100 million in April from David Rockefeller to fund international programs and arts education. A Harvard News Office spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report in the Harvard student newspaper this morning, saying there would be more on the gift this afternoon.

Wyss, a 1965 graduate of Harvard Business School, made his fortune as the long-time chief of Swiss medical devices firm Synthes (and his $6 billion net worth registers No. 164 on the Forbes list of the world’s riches people). His gift, according to the Crimson, will fund the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering over the next five years. The new institute is expected to be housed in Harvard’s new science complex, which is under construction in the Allston section of Boston and which will also be home to other research departments.

Wyss is no stranger to the fundraisers at Harvard. He donated $25 million to Harvard Business School in 2004 to support doctoral programs.

Update 1:05pm: Harvard has just released an official announcement confiriming the donation and describing the plans for the new institute.