Gerstner Philanthropies COVID-19 Response

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Gerstner Philanthropies focuses on biomedical research, educational opportunities, and assistance for people who have suffered a temporary setback and could use a “helping hand” to restore their equilibrium.

Our Biomedical Research funding falls into two categories:

  • Supporting important genomic research that could lead to breakthroughs in clinical practice
  • Enabling talented young scientists to pursue a career in research

Our Education work supports students who have talent and determination but whose opportunity to excel is limited because of their economic circumstances.

Our Helping Hands program provides assistance for people experiencing an unforeseen emergency through one-time cash grants.

In addition, we make a small number of grants related to or outside of these areas of focus.

News


  • New Fossil of Extinct Human Relative Suggests Climate Change Led to Rapid Evolution
    November 18, 2020

    A new fossil discovery in South Africa suggests that Paranthropus robustus, an extinct species that co-existed with early members of our own genus, Homo, may have evolved rapidly during a turbulent period of local climate change about 2 million years ago. “This is an incredibly well-preserved fossil that adds to the evolutionary story of this small-brained, large-toothed hominin from South Africa. The ability to document this level of anatomical detail in one of our extinct relatives is a rare and exciting opportunity for understanding human evolution,” said Carrie Mongle, a Gerstner Scholar and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Museum who was part of an international research team that discovered and described the specimen, one of the most complete skulls of P. robustus ever found, in a study published this week in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

    Read more at amnh.org
  • Children Produce Different Antibodies in Response to New Coronavirus
    November 16, 2020

    Children and adults produce different types and amounts of antibodies in response to infection with the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, a new study from researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons has found. The differences in antibodies suggest the course of the infection and immune response is distinct in children and most children easily clear the virus from their bodies. “Our study provides an in-depth examination of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in kids, revealing a stark contrast with adults,” says Columbia University immunologist Donna Farber, PhD, the George H. Humphreys II Professor of Surgical Sciences in the Department of Surgery, who led the study with Matteo Porotto, PhD, associate professor of viral molecular pathogenesis in Columbia’s Department of Pediatrics. Major contributors to the study include Stuart Weisberg, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pathology & cell biology, and Thomas Connors, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics; Both are recent Gerstner Scholars who are working alongside Dr. Farber, their mentor through the Scholars program.

    Read more at columbia.edu
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Reflections on Helping Hands


Lou Gerstner shares the origin of and his vision for the emergency grants program, lessons learned over the past decade, and his belief in the critical importance of the work.

Watch the video