January 3, 2011

WSE receives largest gift, for new building

Liberty Media Corp. chairman and Johns Hopkins alumnus John C. Malone has given the university’s Whiting School of Engineering $30 million for a building where researchers will collaborate with colleagues from other Johns Hopkins divisions to learn to tailor therapies for individual patients and devise systems-based approaches to some of society’s biggest problems.

The gift, the largest ever to the Whiting School, will fund construction of a 56,000-square-foot research building on the university’s Homewood campus.

Malone Hall will house two planned interdisciplinary research efforts in which the Whiting School will have a leadership role: It will be the home of the Systems Institute and the Homewood base for Johns Hopkins’ emerging initiative in individualized health.

“We are deeply grateful to John Malone for this truly transformational gift,” said Ronald J. Daniels, the university’s president. “Scientists from all across Johns Hopkins will join together in Malone Hall, building on the foundation laid by the Whiting School’s own engineers, mathematicians and computational scientists. Together, they will attack important problems from a variety of perspectives; that kind of collaboration is what makes breakthroughs happen.”

The initiative in individualized health is expected to bring together engineers, life scientists and medical researchers from across Johns Hopkins. They will focus on bringing information science into the practice of medicine, with an initial emphasis on cancer, in a manner that will allow an unprecedented focus on treatment designed for the individual patient. The approach grows out of the recognition that genetic and epigenetic differences among patients explain, at least in part, why traditionally developed drugs help some people and not others.

Instead of a piecemeal, component-by-component approach, the Systems Institute will take a multidisciplinary look at re-engineering entire systems of national importance, including medicine, health care delivery, network-enabled systems, information security, national infrastructure and education. In addition to faculty in the Whiting School, the institute will tap into the expertise of researchers from the university’s three health professions schools, Medicine, Public Health and Nursing; from the schools of Arts and Sciences, Business and Education; and from the Applied Physics Laboratory, already one of the nation’s leading centers of systems engineering.

“I am pleased to be able to support the Whiting School and its leader, Nick Jones,” Malone said, “in this exciting expansion of interdisciplinary research between the School of Engineering and so many of the other divisions of the university.”

Malone Hall will stand at the southeast corner of Decker Quadrangle, the university’s newest, dedicated in 2007. It will adjoin Hackerman Hall, which houses computational science and engineering programs, and Mason Hall, the university’s admissions and visitor center. Construction of the four-story structure is expected to begin in 2012.

“The generous financial support provided by John Malone,” said Jones, the Benjamin T. Rome Dean of the Whiting School, “will enable us to bring together Johns Hopkins experts to focus on innovative solutions to some of today’s most challenging problems. The work that will take place in Malone Hall ultimately will have a profound impact on our world. We are thrilled that John shares our vision for what engineering and other disciplines can accomplish together.”

Widely recognized as a pioneer in communications and media, Malone earned a master of science degree in industrial management from Johns Hopkins in 1964, followed by a doctorate in operations research three years later. He is chairman of Liberty Media Corp., a holding company that, through ownership in subsidiaries and other companies, is engaged primarily in the electronic retailing, media, communications and entertainment industries. Interests include QVC, Starz, the Atlanta Braves and Sirius XM Radio Inc.

Malone also is chairman of Liberty Global Inc., a holding company that, through ownership of interests in subsidiaries and affiliates, provides broadband distribution services and video programming services to subscribers in Europe, Latin America and Australia.

He is chairman emeritus of CableLabs and a member of the boards of Ascent Media, the Cato Institute, Discovery Communications, Expedia Inc. and Live Nation Entertainment. He was chief executive officer of Tele-Communications Inc. from 1973 to 1999, when TCI merged with AT&T Corp.

Malone received his undergraduate degree from Yale University in 1963.