Creative Educational Program Gets $100K Gift from Breakthrough Prize Winner

A UC San Francisco graduate program in complex biology led by Joseph DeRisi, PhD, is being lauded for its creativity with a $100,000 gift.

Joseph DeRisi, PhD

David Botstein, PhD, a genetics pioneer at Princeton University, is using some of his award money from the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences to help advance DeRisi's program.

The UCSF integrated program in Complex Biological Sciences teaches first-year graduate students – only some of whom have studied biology, while others may have studied physics or computer science – how to cross disciplinary boundaries to answer biological questions. To succeed, they must pool their expertise and range across disciplines many of them do not yet know.

Botstein, who developed methods that led to the discovery of disease genes such as Huntington’s and BRCA1, is the director of Princeton’s Lewis-Siegler Institute. He was one of eleven recipients of the inaugural $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences awarded earlier this year by Internet entrepreneurs Yuri Milner, Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki and Mark Zuckerberg, as well as UCSF alumni Art Levinson and Priscilla Chan. 

In addition to the $100,000 gift to UCSF, Botstein has pledged similar awards to advanced technology courses in biology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Davidson College.