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


  • Personalized blood biopsies demonstrate potential as early-warning signal of breast cancer recurrence

    Researchers in the Gerstner Center for Cancer Diagnostics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have increased the sensitivity of blood biopsies, demonstrating that they can monitor up to hundreds of different cancer mutations in blood samples from individual patients, with potential to detect cancer recurrence — and inform treatment decisions — years before traditional approaches could. The study appears today in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. In the new study, the scientists tested their approach on blood samples from breast cancer patients. Breast cancer is most deadly when it comes back in patients, often years after their first treatments for the disease. Existing diagnostics aren’t yet sensitive enough to tell whether a patient’s initial therapy eliminated the disease or left behind tumor cells that pose future danger — and by the time the cancer is found the second time around, it’s often too late to stop. Blood biopsies, which scan patient blood samples for genetic traces of cancer, could potentially provide an earlier warning of metastatic cancer before it is picked up through standard monitoring.

    Read more at broadinstitute.org
  • #RealCollege 2020 Report: Five Years of Evidence on Basic Needs Insecurity
    February 21, 2020

    Now in its fifth year, the #RealCollege survey is the nation’s largest, longest-running annual assessment of basic needs insecurity among college students. In the absence of any federal data on the subject, the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice created the survey to evaluate access to affordable food and housing among college students. This report describes the results of the #RealCollege survey administered in the fall of 2019 at 227 two- and four-year institutions across the United States. It also considers the cumulative evidence on campus basic needs insecurity amassed over five surveys from 2015 to 2019. The lessons the Hope Center has learned are drawn from over 330,000 students attending 411 colleges and universities.In 2019, nearly 167,000 students from 171 two-year institutions and 56 four-year institutions responded to the #RealCollege survey. The results indicate: 39% of respondents were food insecure in the prior 30 days, 46% of respondents were housing insecure in the previous year and 17% of respondents were homeless in the previous year. These rates of food and housing insecurity are lower than they were for the sample of students and colleges assessed in 2018, while results for homelessness are the same. Basic needs insecurity continues to be more common among students attending two-year colleges compared with those attending four-year colleges. Students often marginalized in higher education, including Black and Indigenous students, students identifying as nonbinary or transgender, students enrolled part-time, and students who are former foster youth or returning citizens, are at greater risk of basic needs insecurity. The Hope Center’s findings point to a need for an evolution of programmatic work to advance cultural shifts on college campuses, engagement with community organizations and the private sector, more robust emergency aid programs, and a basic needs-centered approach to government policy at all levels.

    Read the full report
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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