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Accelerating Advances in Health Science and Technology

The Merkin Institute helps Caltech researchers realize the full potential of their work to enable longer, healthier lives by:

  • Funding eight Merkin Institute professorships and a leadership chair who nucleate an interactive, core group of Caltech leaders in health-related research.
  • Establishing a grant program to catalyze research with the potential to improve disease prevention and health care.
    • Merkin Institute grants will target high-risk research offering the promise of advancing our understanding of health and disease, molecular medicine, device engineering, and medical diagnostics.
  • Providing access to shared instruments and facilities to support and connect research groups throughout the campus.
  • Working with physicians-in-residence and clinical partners to help researchers identify and solve pressing clinical problems.
  • Linking faculty and students with mentorship including Entrepreneurs-in-residence via Caltech's technology transfer program, which has helped Caltech entrepreneurs start more than 130 companies and currently supports approximately 1,800 active U.S. patents.
  • Creating and supporting multi-center collaborations and training programs to enhance Caltech's partnerships with hospitals and medical organizations.
  • Organizing workshops and short courses for investigators and students to maximize the clinical impact of their work, to help them gain relevant skills, to evaluate the translational potential of their research, and to find essential financial support.

These investments and activities are ideally timed, according to Barbara Wold, the Bren Professor of Molecular Biology and a member of the translational sciences faculty committee.

"Caltech's great, unchanging strength is our capacity to make fundamental scientific breakthroughs and inventions that flow from them," Wold says. "Those advances can drive big changes in medicine, but the path from a basic discovery to a treatment or medical device can be long and full of roadblocks. The new Merkin Institute promises to remove roadblocks and catalyze the best at each step: We make a discovery, relate the insight to human biology, develop the medical applications, and then mine data from precision medicine to drive new rounds of discovery. To me, the brilliance of Richard Merkin's investment in Caltech is how it leverages our basic science to make the distance from breakthrough to patient treatment as short as possible."