A Dramatic Growth in Research


Belfer Research Building
Photo: Jeff Goldberg/Esto for Ennead Architects

Ten years ago, Weill Cornell Medicine opened the Belfer Research Building, creating a new environment for high-impact translational research that has been key to the institution’s growth as a leading academic medical center. A testament to visionary philanthropy, the facility was made possible in part by a $100 million gift from Renée and Robert Belfer, for whom the building was named. Leading philanthropic support for the building was also provided by Board of Fellows Chair Emeritus Sanford I. Weill and his wife, Joan, who gave a gift of $250 million, and gifts totaling $100 million from Board of Fellows member Maurice Greenberg; his wife, Corinne; and The Starr Foundation.

Through the current $1.5 billion We’re Changing Medicine campaign, Weill Cornell Medicine is building upon what the Belfer Research Building started with genomics, data science, neuroscience, immunotherapy, regenerative medicine, population health and women’s health.

The 18-story building, with its 13 floors of laboratories — and facilities that include a reception hall, conference rooms and offices — dramatically expanded Weill Cornell Medicine’s research enterprise, enabling a bench-to-bedside approach that has helped to transform patient care. The 480,000 square-foot building, on East 69th St. and York Ave., is devoted to translational research that targets a wide range of illnesses, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic diseases, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, children’s health, global health and infectious diseases.

Since the building opened a decade ago, Weill Cornell Medicine’s sponsored research funding has more than doubled — jumping from $191 million in 2014 to $427 million in 2023, with a 92 percent increase in the number of faculty funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In the past year, Weill Cornell Medicine has risen to a ranking of 21 (from a starting point of 37) among academic medical institutions receiving NIH funding, according to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research.

Many of Weill Cornell Medicine’s leading programs headquartered in the Belfer Research Building — such as the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Center for Metabolic Health, the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center, and the Gale and Ira Drukier Institute for Children’s Health, among others— made this dramatic growth possible. The building is also home to programs in virology and infectious disease that contributed significantly to the scientific understanding of COVID-19.

“The Belfers truly inspired others to support our research enterprise, and  they have made an enduring impact on patient care,” says Board of Fellows chair Jessica Bibliowicz. “Extraordinary generosity such as theirs has such incredible power to change lives for the better.”

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