Chancellor Michael F. Collins with Zhiping Weng and Li Weibo
A gift from the Li Weibo Charitable Foundation to establish a newly endowed chair at UMass Medical School will support research initiatives that advance the fundamental understanding of human biological systems and offer new and innovative pathways to treat human disease.
“Thanks to the continued generosity of the Li Weibo Charitable Foundation, the UMass Board of Trustees has approved the establishment of the Li Weibo Chair in Biomedical Research,” Chancellor Michael F. Collins announced at a ceremony in the Albert Sherman Center on Friday, May 11. “We are humbled and energized by the emphatic support shown to UMass Medical School by Li Weibo, whose leadership gift to create The Li Weibo Institute for Rare Diseases Research has already begun to catalyze research collaborations and new investigations among our gifted faculty.”
“It is altogether fitting that the inaugural holder of the Li Weibo Chair in Biomedical Research will be Zhiping Weng, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and director of the Program in Bioinformatics & Integrative Biology,” said Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor of Medical Education, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the School of Medicine. “Dr. Weng has been a transformative member of the faculty working in a field that is transforming biomedical research; this acknowledgment her accomplishments and the potential for her future impact is an example of the power of investing in our great faculty and this great academic health sciences center.”
Dr. Weng joined the UMMS faculty in 2008, recruited to lead the new Program in Bioinformatics & Integrative Biology, where she has built a novel research program and established UMMS as a leader in the field. She is a principal investigator of the ENCODE Consortium and leads its data analysis center. She is also a member of the data analysis center of the psychENCODE Consortium. Her research is supported by $6 million in competitive grant funding and her publication record—more than 225 publications in the preeminent journals in the sciences—is, according to Dean Flotte, enviable. “We deeply admire her contributions to our academic mission.”
Weng thanked Li Weibo for his generosity and Chancellor Collins, Dean Flotte and her colleagues for their support.
“I’m very humbled and very honored to be here and so grateful for the generous gift from Chairman Li to UMass Medical School,” she said. “I met him a year ago at dinner at the chancellor’s house and I have since interacted with him a few times and he has impressed all of us with his business acumen and efficiency and his dedication to science and medicine and also to alleviating human suffering.
I’m confident that the partnership that he has bridged with UMass Medical School will enable us to do great things and make a big difference.”
Li Weibo, chairman and CEO of The Glory Harvest Group of Shenzhen, China, and The Li Weibo Charitable Foundation of Hong Kong, said he identified in UMMS a research enterprise that shares his deep commitment to the development of applied biomedical science to solve the challenges of illness and disease.
“My team and I at Glory Harvest Group are chasing our dream together, for a better world and better human health,” he said, through a translator. “I’m looking forward to this opportunity to work together with UMass Medical School.”
In addition to the newly endowed chair and the $10 million gift that launched The Li Weibo Institute for Rare Diseases Research, Li Weibo also provided $750,000 to support Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences scholarships to students from China.
“On behalf of my colleagues here today and our entire medical school, I want to convey to you our profound gratitude for believing in us and for partnering with our institution as we work together with you to change the course of the history of disease,” Collins said to Li Weibo. “Your support, confidence and partnership inspire all of us. By working together there is no limit to what we can accomplish.”
Related story on UMassMedNow:
UMass Medical School announces The Li Weibo (李伟波) Institute for Rare Diseases Research