SOM alum commits $15M for basic biomedical research

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine alumnus Huntington "Skip" Sheldon has committed $15 million to the school's Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences. Sheldon, a longtime benefactor of the university who has served as a trustee for more than two decades, completed his medical education and residency at Johns Hopkins and went on to teach pathology at McGill University for 25 years.

"Skip's advice and support have immeasurably strengthened research and education at Johns Hopkins, and we thank him for this new gift, which will be reflected in IBBS' work for decades to come," says Paul Rothman, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

A portion will go toward a new facility for electron cryomicroscopy, a cutting-edge technique that enables researchers to study biological structures at the level of individual molecules. Landon King, executive vice dean at the School of Medicine, says, "This is an incredibly exciting technology that will enable our scientists to examine biological structures in unprecedented detail."

"Basic biomedical research at Johns Hopkins is second to none, and we are immensely grateful to Dr. Sheldon for helping us go even further," says Stephen Desiderio, IBBS director. "Philanthropic gifts like his are essential for funding the kind of high-risk, high-reward research that leads to innovation and discovery but rarely gets supported by federal granting agencies."

A large share of the gift will be used for new research projects and faculty recruitment. Another part will endow the new Huntington Sheldon, M.D., Professorship in Medical Discovery.

Sheldon graduated from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1956 and went on to serve as a staff member and then as a resident at the school. In 1959, he accepted a faculty position in the Pathology Department at McGill University in Montreal, where he taught and performed research until his retirement in 1985. He was a pioneer in the use of electron microscopy at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and brought his knowledge of this field to Johns Hopkins. The electron microscope was a precursor to today's electron cryomicroscope.

A generous donor to the university over the years, Sheldon has made significant gifts in support of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Fund for Johns Hopkins Medicine, the Peabody Institute, and other Johns Hopkins entities. He serves as a Fund for Johns Hopkins Medicine trustee and the vice chairman of the board for IBBS, and he is a member of the Bloomberg School's advisory board.