Continually inspired by the promise and power of science and technology, Brit d’Arbeloff has always been a trailblazer. As the first woman to receive a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, Brit has helped pave the way for future generations of researchers and engineers. Today she is a governance and philanthropic leader for some of Boston’s most prominent scientific organizations. When Brit met physician–scientist Dan Barouch, MD, PhD, several years ago, she discovered a kindred spirit—and decided to help propel his research efforts through philanthropic support. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she increased her gift to a generous total of $2.5 million. “I have great respect for Dan’s work,” says Brit. “He has a tremendous track record of success. I don’t think he has ever met a virus he didn’t want to do away with.”
As director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research (CVVR) at BIDMC, Barouch is a global innovator in infectious disease research. When the COVID-19 crisis began in 2020, he was suddenly thrust into the world spotlight. In one of the rare scientific labs to remain open amidst shutdowns nationwide, Barouch and his colleagues worked around the clock to unlock a solution to the crisis. The CVVR, in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson, was at the epicenter of vaccine research, and Brit decided to further her commitment to the lab. “I feel that Dan is doing the most valuable work in this space,” says Brit. “His entire academic group is focused on safety, efficacy, and scientific rigor.”
For decades, Barouch’s work has been centered on the immunology and pathology of HIV infection. The Barouch Laboratory has developed the only HIV vaccine that is currently being tested in a large-scale, global clinical efficacy trial. “Dan’s research in this space is truly pioneering,” says Brit, who, following her time at Stanford, came to the East Coast to pursue graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). With her generous support of the Barouch Lab, Brit is enabling the continuation of this highly innovative work, with the goal of helping individuals across the globe. “Dan’s work is brilliant, and he is also training the next generation of physician–scientists,” says Brit. “His whole team is outstanding.”
Barouch and his team are applying their vaccine and immunology expertise to develop solutions for emerging infectious disease threats. Philanthropic support keeps the team poised to combat both known and novel illnesses. “The field of public health is extremely important to me. I admire Dan’s efforts to relieve suffering and save lives around the world,” says Brit, who is deeply committed to the pursuit of science and discovery, serving on the boards of the MIT Corporation, the Whitehead Institute, and the Museum of Science. Now, as Barouch aims to lead future efforts in global infectious disease research, Brit’s philanthropy is essential—and continues her long legacy of supporting the best and brightest scientists.
“Dan is extremely focused, and I admire that so much,” says Brit. “He has a total love of problem-solving—he’s a trailblazer.” It takes one to know one.
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