By Nick Wurm
On November 15, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) held its 18th annual Double Helix Medals dinner (DHMD) at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. CBS journalist Lesley Stahl returned to emcee the awards dinner, which honored Neri Oxman & William Ackman and 2018 Nobel laureate Jim Allison. Thanks to the event chairs and donors, the event raised more than $10 million. After receiving the Double Helix Medal, Oxman and Ackman announced an extraordinary gift, further breaking the event’s fundraising record to support scientific research and education at CSHL.
Neri Oxman & William Ackman are co-trustees of the Pershing Square Foundation. The organization empowers scientists to take on important social causes, including the environment, cancer, and cognitive health. Ackman is also the CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management and chairman of the Howard Hughes Corporation. Oxman is an innovative designer whose fusions of technology and biology have been featured in museums around the world. Her work has yielded over 150 scientific publications and inventions.
“Something we continue to this day is backing young, talented entrepreneurs who are on a mission to solve an important societal problem,” Ackman says. “We believe in taking risks with incredible scientists who have the ability to tackle these complex problems,” Oxman adds.
Dr. Jim Allison is regental professor and chair of the MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Department of Immunology. He won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for pioneering the field of cancer immunotherapy. Since then, his research has led to the development of ipilimumab, an FDA-approved therapy for metastatic melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, and lung cancer.
“The perception of immunology has shifted,” Dr. Allison says. “People used to say, ‘Will immunotherapy ever work?’ We now know it works. Immunotherapy is going to be a part of all cancer therapies for almost every kind of cancer.”
The 2023 DHMD was chaired by Ms. Jamie Nicholls and Mr. O. Francis Biondi, Ms. Barbara Amonson and Dr. Vincent Della Pietra, Drs. Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra and Stephen Della Pietra, Mr. and Mrs. John M. Desmarais, Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Gray, Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey E. Kelter, Dr. and Mrs. Tomislav Kundic, Mr. and Mrs. Robert D. Lindsay, Ms. Ivana Stolnik-Lourie and Dr. Robert Lourie, Dr. Marcia Kramer Mayer, Dr. and Mrs. Howard L. Morgan, Drs. Marilyn and James Simons, and Mr. and Mrs. Paul J. Taubman.
Since the inaugural gala in 2006 honoring Muhammed Ali, the DHMD has raised over $60 million to support CSHL’s biological research and education programs.
Author Nick Wurm is a Communications Specialist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.