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Support for the Merkin Institute for Translational Research at Caltech

Richard Merkin

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With his gift to Break Through: The Caltech Campaign, Caltech trustee Richard Merkin established the Richard N. Merkin Institute for Translational Research.

Richard Merkin, who is founder and chief executive officer of Heritage Provider Network, focuses his work and the bulk of his philanthropy on new paths to cures and to affordable, high-quality health care.

"We are on the cusp of an incredible new generation of medical science. I am hopeful that this Institute will encourage exponential improvements for society by accelerating the transfer of groundbreaking science from Caltech's world class laboratories to the bedside. This may allow every family in America access to affordable health care," Merkin says.

Richard Merkin's Inspiration

Richard Merkin's love of mathematics, his undergraduate major, has shaped his health-care career. While still a young emergency-room doctor, Merkin founded the Heritage Provider Network in the 1970s. The organization integrated all aspects of medical treatment and data management for its members in order to reduce the cost of excellent care, then an untested approach. With almost a million members today, it is the largest such network to be physician-owned and led.

Merkin advocates a stronger focus on cures, relative to care, in American medical spending. To that end, his philanthropy and volunteer service have advanced biomedical research. His gifts to institutions across the United States have advanced gene therapy, immunology, neuroscience, regenerative medicine, stem cell research, and emergency and tropical medicine. He is a board member and co-founder of the Milken Institute's FasterCures center, which aims to help medical breakthroughs reach patients faster. At Caltech, he established professorships in mathematical finance and in mathematics, and, with his nonprofit, the Heritage Medical Research Institute, founded the Heritage Research Institute for the Advancement of Medicine and Science at Caltech in 2015, and renewed it in 2018.

HMRI Dinner
Richard Merkin joined Caltech's Heritage Medical Research Institute Investigators, President Thomas F. Rosenbaum, and Provost David Tirrell for a celebration in 2018. From left, Rosenbaum, Mikhail Shapiro, Sarah Reisman, Azita Emami, Merkin, Viviana Gradinaru, Rebecca Voorhees, Mitchell Guttman, Sarkis Mazmanian, and Tirrell.

His gifts in support of health care take unconventional approaches to spark change. He launched the $3 million Heritage Health Prize, a global competition that led to dramatic improvements in the ability to predict which patients are likely to be hospitalized and for how long. He also supported the Brookings Institution's Richard Merkin Initiative to Advance Clinical Leadership in Delivery and Payment Reform, and enabled Western Governors University to offer a new bachelor's program in health services coordination.

Merkin connected with Caltech through shared committee service with David Baltimore, Caltech President Emeritus and the Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology. Merkin was elected to Caltech's Board of Trustees in 2007 and joined the Caltech Associates in 2008.