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Celebrity Philanthropy News
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Black Tie International: Celebrity Philanthropy News-
Phil Donahue


Bruce Stillman,  Phil Donahue

Bruce Stillman and Phil Donahue.  Photo by:  Patrick McMullan

$3.6 Million Raised at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s

2008 Double Helix Medals Dinner


Gala Event Held Thursday, November 6

Honored, James D. Watson, J. Craig Venter, Marilyn and James Simons

 and Sherry Lansing




NEW YORK, NY – $3.6 million was raised for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) at its third annual Double Helix Medals Dinner. The event honored Sherry Lansing for Humanitarianism, Marilyn and James Simons for Corporate Leadership and James D. Watson and J. Craig Venter for Scientific Research. The black-tie gala hosted by veteran television personality Phil Donahue was held on November 6 at New York City’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.


“Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has long been recognized for its excellence in biological and biomedical science research,” said Dr. Bruce Stillman, Laboratory President. “The Double Helix Medals recognize individuals who have dedicated their lives to raising the awareness of the importance of genetics research for improving the health of people everywhere.” The Double Helix Medal, inaugurated in 2006, refers to the unique structure of DNA molecule, which carries all of life's information. It is central to biological research, and is at the heart of work at CSHL.


Sherry Lansing, one of the most powerful executives in Hollywood for almost 25 years, was the first woman to run a major film studio. Honored by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for her humanitarian efforts, she is a noted fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross and her own Sherry Lansing Foundation. She most recently helped spear head “Stand Up to Cancer” the nationally televised benefit that aired in September 2008.


Drs.Watson and Venter received Double Helix Medals for their work in promoting public knowledge about personal genomes and making each of their individual genome sequences available for scientific use on the Internet. Dr. Watson is the Chancellor Emeritus of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and won a Nobel Prize in 1962 for describing the structure of DNA. He is credited for building the modern vision for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Dr. Venter, who now runs the J. Craig Venter Institute, in 2007 published the first full DNA sequence from maternally and paternally inherited sets of chromosomes of a single person – himself.  He has advocated the public release of individual genomes with the view that a growing database in which scientists can compare DNA profiles with health histories and traits will help them understand in greater detail the impact of genetics upon human health. Venter’s team has also published the sequences of more than 50 genomes, including those of the fruit fly, mouse and rat.


Dr. Marilyn Simons and her husband, Dr. James Simons who runs the private investment firm Renaissance Technologies LLC, are the co-founders of the Simons Foundation, a charitable organization that was founded in 1994 to fund basic research and educational programs in mathematics, physical and life sciences. They were honored this year by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for Corporate Leadership.  With $38 million committed so far, the Simons Foundation expects to provide $100 million in grants in 2009 to autism researchers at more than 30 institutions, including CSHL.


The funds raised at the gala will fortify and expand Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s groundbreaking research and education programs, laboratories and facilities, and further facilitate the development of innovative technologies to study genetics.


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a private, non-profit research and education institution at the forefront of research in cancer and molecular biology, neuroscience, plant genetics, and bioinformatics and genomics. Under the leadership of Bruce Stillman, Ph.D., President, more than 400 scientists conduct groundbreaking research to advance the understanding and ability to diagnose and treat cancers, autism, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other causes of human suffering.


For more information about Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, visit and for more information about the Double Helix Medals Dinner, visit




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