June 10, 2015 – UT Southwestern Medical Center announced today that it has received an exceptional $25 million gift from Lyda Hill, funding the establishment of the Lyda Hill Department of Bioinformatics to bridge research and clinical care.
The new Department, recently approved by the UT System Board of Regents, is dedicated to developing UT Southwestern’s capability in bioinformatics, a discipline that provides tools for managing and analyzing the extremely large data sets that are increasingly key to addressing the most important scientific and medical challenges. Finding the patterns in these data sets has become an essential component of biomedical discovery and is crucial to developing new therapeutic strategies and to understanding the foundations of life and the defects that cause disease.
With this commitment, Miss Hill, who serves on the Board of Trustees of Southwestern Medical Foundation, has now contributed more than $37.5 million to UT Southwestern, supporting research ranging from systems biology to the development of a genetic mutations database.
“We are deeply grateful for this transformative gift from Lyda Hill, which underscores her role in supporting and promoting Dallas’ reputation as a growing center for biotechnology and medical innovation,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern. “By establishing the Lyda Hill Department of Bioinformatics, UT Southwestern will significantly expand our existing expertise in this critical field,” noted Dr. Podolsky, who holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery Jr., M.D., Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.
Miss Hill added, “Over the long term, I believe bioinformatics will prove indispensable in bridging the outstanding research activity at UT Southwestern with the most promising clinical applications. My hope is that our investment will help overcome the technological barriers in managing and analyzing data, enabling patients to benefit from research breakthroughs.”
Miss Hill’s donation will further facilitate the following:
Recruiting new faculty to establish research centers of excellence in neuroinformatics and complementary areas
Supporting renewed investments in modern computing infrastructure that is so vital to this work
Integrating bioinformatics faculty members into complementary research programs through joint faculty appointments and training programs
Dr. Gaudenz Danuser, Professor of Cell Biology, holder of the Patrick E. Haggerty Distinguished Chair in Basic Biomedical Science, and a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Scholar, has been selected after a national search to chair the new department. Before joining the UT Southwestern faculty in 2013, he directed research laboratories at ETH Zurich, at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, and at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Danuser received his advanced degree and Ph.D. from ETH Zurich in Switzerland in engineering and computer science, both with distinction.
His research has been recognized by several honors and awards, including the Michael and Kate Barany Award for Young Investigators from the Biophysical Society, a Transformative Research Award (RO1) from the National Institutes of Health, and the Charles Edward Holt Memorial Lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the recent round of CPRIT awards, Dr. Danuser received $5.59 million to support the development of a Bioinformatics Core Facility at UT Southwestern.
“I am honored to be leading the Lyda Hill Department of Bioinformatics,” Dr. Danuser said. “I appreciate Miss Hill’s confidence, and I see this as an opportunity to bring bioinformatics to an unprecedented level of excellence at UT Southwestern.”