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Broad Institute Launches Schmidt Center to Merge Biology, Machine Learning

NEW YORK – The Broad Institute on Thursday introduced the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Center, which will serve as a hub for interdisciplinary research at the nexus of biology and machine learning.

The name comes from a $150 million endowment gift the Broad received from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his wife. In recognition of this donation, the Broad Foundation said it is making a $150 million contribution of its own to the Broad Institute's general endowment.

The new Schmidt Center will bring together informatics and life sciences researchers from academia and industry to "transform biology and ultimately improve human health," according to a statement from the Broad. The Broad has named Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist Caroline Uhler and Broad Chief Data Officer Anthony Philippakis as codirectors of the Schmidt Center.

Collaborators will include Mila (the Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute), the European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems, the Oxford Big Data Institute, the Alan Turing Institute, Mayo Clinic, Geisinger Health, Roche's Genentech, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Microsoft, Google Research, and Google AI affiliate DeepMind.

"The pandemic has shown us that prioritizing science, innovation, and research is one of the greatest investments we can make in our future," Eric Schmidt, a Broad board member, said in a statement. "Much like Eli and Edye Broad saw the potential in creating the Broad Institute, Wendy and I believe this center has the promise to create a new field of science that could benefit human health in ways we can't even begin to imagine."

Broad Director Todd Golub said that data science has not kept pace with biology in terms of managing and understanding the massive amounts of information being generated from technologies like DNA sequencing and single-cell genomics. "Adapting the methods of machine learning for biology will give scientists the chance to understand the programs of life, and the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Center will enable new partnerships between academia and industry that can greatly accelerate our progress," he said.

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