Greenwich businessman, wife, donate $10 million to Washington U
GREENWICH — Two alumni of Washington University in St. Louis with ties to Greenwich have donated $10 million to their alma mater.
Andrew and Jane Bursky are pledging the funds to research the immune system, developing strategies to fight cancer and auto-immune diseases. The Washington University School of Medicine will name the Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy Programs after them.
“Immunology and immunological therapies are just entering a Golden Age of discovery and development, the result of decades of scientific progress that has elucidated the structure and operations of the immunologic machinery at the cellular and genomic level,” Andrew Bursky said.
“The Bursky Center brings together world renowned immunologists, pathologists, surgeons, bioinformaticists and genomics experts to enable discovery facilitated by the collaboration of multi-disciplinary experts which can then be rapidly translated into treatments — in months rather than years,” he said.
Andrew Bursky said that discoveries from the newly named center already are being used in treating a range of cancers and immune disorders.
“Our hope is that our gift will further accelerate the pace of discovery as well as the scope at which efficacious, personalized treatments can be implemented,” he said. “Further, we hope that our gift will encourage others to contribute to this most important and impactful undertaking.”
Andrew Bursky is co-founder and chief executive officer of Atlas Holdings, an industrial holding company based in Greenwich. Both he and his wife attended Wash U. and maintained strong ties to the highly ranked academic institution.
An entrepreneur at an early age, Andrew Bursky started a lawn-cutting business at the age of 11, taking a large market share of the mowing business in the north Indianapolis neighborhood where he grew up, according to the Wash U. alumni magazine.
He earned three diplomas at the school and later went to Harvard Business School. Jane Bursky was a French major at the college, and one of their daughters is also an alumna.
“We have had a life-long relationship with the University and I have served as a member of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Board for many years,” Andrew Bursky said.
“Equally importantly, the Washington University Medical complex is recognized as one of the finest and most advanced in the world, both in regard to its research and clinical practices,” he said. “The collaborative ethos that is at the core of the Bursky Center’s ability to rapidly translate discovery into human treatment modalities is a unique element of Washington University’s culture.”
Beside his business interests and philanthropic projects, Andrew Bursky has been active with No Labels, a bipartisan political effort to focus on key issues facing the nation in a non-dogmatic manner.
The Bursky donation will help find ways to fight cancer, and the research will also help shed light on other ailments like diabetes, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
“The breadth of disease states that are caused by immunodeficiency as well as auto-immunity is staggering,” Andrew Bursky said. “One of our researchers is a world leader in mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue, chikungunya and Zika. Importantly, the discoveries that may lead to a personalized cancer vaccine, for example, may also provide insight that leads to treatments of auto-immune diseases and infectious diseases.”