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April 26, 2006 Press Contact: Steve Koppes
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University of Chicago to celebrate opening of the new Ellen and Melvin Gordon Center for Integrative Science April 26

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View of the Ellen and Melvin Gordon Center for Integrative Science at the University of Chicago.

Ellen and Melvin Gordon

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Tours, scientific seminars, donor recognition and a keynote speech by Nobel laureate Thomas Cech will highlight dedication events for the University of Chicago’s $200 million Ellen and Melvin Gordon Center for Integrative Science building on Wednesday, April 26.

The building is named for Ellen and Melvin Gordon, president and chairman of Chicago-based Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. The Gordons have donated $25 million for the building’s construction costs.

Dedication festivities will begin with a ribbon-cutting outside the building, 929 E. 57th Street, at 1:30 p.m., followed by tours and seminars conducted by scientists pursuing research that blurs the boundaries between biology, chemistry and physics. The day’s events will conclude with a dinner for invited guests, where Cech will be the keynote speaker. His topic will be “Small Science, Big Science: Laying the Foundation for Tomorrow’s Medicine.”

Cech, who shared the 1989 Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery of the catalytic properties of RNA, is president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). A Chicago native, he received an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Chicago in 1991.

As president of HHMI, Cech presides over one of the largest philanthropies of the world, with an endowment of approximately $13 billion. A non-profit medical research organization, the HHMI was established in 1953 by aviator-industrialist Howard Hughes. The Institute, headquartered in Chevy Chase, Md., has contributed $17.6 million toward the construction of the Gordon Center, and also supports the University’s eight HHMI investigators, who are housed in the building.

Also at the dinner, the University will honor some of the largest donors to the Gordon Center: the HHMI, the State of Illinois, the Ben May Trust, Priscilla and Steven Kersten, and Gwendolen Stoughton.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) contributed $5 million toward construction of the Gordon Center. DCEO is the state’s lead economic development agency. “With the momentum of BIO2006, we have shown that Illinois is a true leader for biotechnology activity and much more. Governor Blagojevich and I are excited to be a part of this collaboration at the University of Chicago that will provide space for scientists and researchers to advance key discoveries in the physical and life sciences,” said DCEO Director Jack Lavin.

The Ben May Trust and the Ben May family support the Ben May Institute for Cancer Research, which moved into the Gordon Center last year. The Institute was formally established in 1951 with funds provided by Alabama businessman and philanthropist Ben May. Since then, the Trust has donated nearly $4 million to the Ben May Institute to encourage research innovations and breakthroughs. In 1999, the trust estate of Ben May Jr. donated $10 million to equip the Ben May Cancer Institute’s new space in the Gordon Center.

The Kerstens are long-time supporters of the Physical Sciences Division, having endowed a professorship in the physics department and a scholarship in the Physical Sciences Collegiate Division. Most recently, the Kerstens donated $5 million to name the Kersten Family Atrium in the Gordon Center. The name honors Steven Kersten’s parents, Elaine and Samuel Kersten. The Kersten Physics Teaching Center, which connects with the Gordon Center, also is named for Elaine and Samuel Kersten.

Stoughton graduated from the University of Chicago’s University High School in 1944. She then earned three degrees from the University of Chicago: a Ph.B. in 1945, an S.B., biology, in 1947, and a Ph.D., psychology, in 1954. Her late husband, dermatologist Richard Stoughton, was a University of Chicago alumnus (S.B., 1945, biology, M.D., 1947), and a former instructor in the Medical School.

Scientists began moving into the new Gordon Center last June. Once fully occupied, more than 100 senior scientists and 700 additional researchers and students will work in the 400,000-square-foot building. The Gordon Center provides space for the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, which was jointly founded in 1998 by the Divisions of Biological and Physical Sciences. Also gaining laboratory and office space in the Gordon Center are 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.

Related stories:

Ellen and Melvin Gordon donate $25 million for University of Chicago’s largest-ever science building

New research building housing new scientific instruments

The quest for answers in the Ellen and Melvin Gordon Center for Integrative Science

Schedule of events for April 26 opening of Gordon Center for Integrative Science
Last modified at 08:33 PM CST on Tuesday, April 25, 2006.

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