Buck Institute for Research on Aging
The Buck Institute for Research on Aging is an independent biomedical research institute that researches aging and age-related disease. The mission of the Buck Institute is to extend the healthy years of life. The Buck Institute is one of nine centers for aging research of the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research.
|Established||30 Sep 1999|
|President||Eric M. Verdin|
|Formerly called||Buck Institute for Age Research|
|Address||8001 Redwood Blvd.|
Novato, CA 94945-1400
The institute, a nonprofit organization located in Novato, California, began its research program in 1999, making it the world's first institute founded primarily to research aging. It is named for Marin County philanthropists Leonard and Beryl Hamilton Buck, whose estate funded the endowment that helped establish the institute, and the Buck Trust currently contributes approximately $6 million annually to support the institute's work. The campus of the Buck Institute was designed by architect I. M. Pei.
The Buck Foundation Trust was created by Beryl Hamilton Buck after the death in 1953 of her husband, pathologist Leonard W. Buck. Leonard's father, Frank Buck, was one of the founders of Belridge Oil. When Beryl Buck died in 1975, the bulk of the estate became part of the San Francisco Foundation, about $7.6 million dedicated to "charitable purposes in Marin County" including, "extending help to the problems of aging." The Belridge Oil stock in the trust was bought in 1979 by Shell Oil for $253 million, increasing the trust's value substantially.
Attempts by the San Francisco Foundation to use the cy pres doctrine to spend outside of Marin County resulted in litigation which the SF Foundation lost. As part of a 1986 court settlement, the Marin Community Foundation was established to administer the trust, valued in 2013 at approximately $1 billion. The settlement required that 80% of the trust's annual earnings be distributed to causes specific to Marin County. The remaining 20% is to be distributed among three Marin County organizations:
- The Buck Institute for Research on Aging
- The Buck Institute for Education
- Alcohol Justice, formerly named The Marin Institute, which deals with alcohol-related problems.
The Institute is on a 488-acre (1.97 km2; 0.76 sq mi) site located in the foothills of Mount Burdell, north of Novato, California. Of this, a 238-acre (0.96 km2; 0.37 sq mi) portion is dedicated to permanent agricultural use; another 70-acre (0.28 km2; 0.11 sq mi) portion is open public space.
I. M. Pei, who responded in 1989 to a request to submit a proposal to design the research facility, was selected as the architect for the institute's facility. Pei's master plan called for 355,000 square feet (33,000 m2) of laboratory and facility space. The multi-stage plan calls for five interlocking buildings (four laboratory buildings and a support building) around a one-acre hexagonal courtyard, designed to provide a green oasis for quiet contemplation and outdoor activities. Pei used varied geometric elements and floating staircases, which appear throughout both the administrative and research buildings. The second of four research buildings approved in the master plan was completed in 2012.
As of 2016, the institute had more than $80 million in bond debt from building its Novato headquarters in 1999 and completing its third building in 2012. It was leasing 27,000 sq ft of its campus to for-profit businesses, including BioMarin, Ultragenyx, Cellular Dynamics, An2H Discovery Limited, and Excel Venture Management.
Buck Institute conducts its research programs through twenty laboratories that focus on specific subjects. After a 12 year dispute with local animal activists, the institute agreed to limit research to animals no higher than rats and mice; many laboratories use no animals at all.
As of 2013, about half of the institute's support came from peer-reviewed grants from the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies. Foundations and private donors contributed another 35% of the funding. An endowment from the Buck Trust Fund provided approximately 15 percent of the annual budget. Grant revenue in 2015 was $17.4 million, compared to more than $28 million in 2011.
In 2015, California researchers opened the world’s largest publicly available stem cell bank, with samples stored at the Buck Institute. The initial bank had 300 stem cell lines, with an ultimate goal of 9,000 lines.
In 2016, the institute launched a startup, called Unity Biotechnology First Company, aimed at developing medicines to treat age-related diseases and boost healthy lifespans.
One drug developed at the institute, rapamycin, is being researched by Mount Tam Biotechnologies, a private company named for Mount Tamalpais, the highest peak in Marin County, with the institute owning significant legal rights to the drug.
The founding president and CEO, Dale Bredesen, now heads the lab focused on Alzheimer's Disease research. In July 2010 he was succeeded by Brian K. Kennedy, who resigned in October 2016. The institute's current president and CEO, Eric M. Verdin, was appointed in November 2016.
- On January 1, 2011, the name of the institute was changed from "Buck Institute for Age Research"
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- Doyle, Jim; Writer, Chronicle Staff (July 25, 2003). "Asking age-old questions / At Buck Institute in Novato, top scientists investigate how we grow old". SF Chronicle. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
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- "News & Events, Quick Facts". Buck Institute for Research on Aging. Retrieved 25 April 2013.
- Khury, Stela (September 1, 2015). "World's largest public stem cell bank inaugurated in California". The Sacramento Bee. ISSN 0890-5738. Retrieved 2019-05-17.
- Dunn, James (February 3, 2016). "Buck Institute launches Unity Biotechnology". The North Bay Business Journal. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Davidson, Keay (2004-09-13). "Researchers discover 'Jekyll and Hyde' cancer gene/Amount of a specific protein determines whether a tumor is created or suppressed". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
- Halstead, Richard (November 1, 2016). "At Buck Institute, second top executive resigns". Marin Independent Journal. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
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