Acclaimed bioscience inventor and entrepreneur Jonathan Rothberg GRD ’87 ’91 and his wife Bonnie Gould Rothberg MED ’94 SPH ’05 GRD ’09 donated $2 million to strengthen Yale’s clinical and research efforts to combat COVID-19.

“The Rothberg’s generous gift will support clinical care, for example through support for personal protective equipment for health care workers, as well as research,” Yale School of Medicine Dean Nancy Brown wrote in an email to the News. Brown noted the donation’s impact on supporting essential research of Yale’s virologists and immunologists investigating how a patient’s immune response to COVID-19 affects the severity of injury. The gift will help meet urgent needs of Yale clinicians and researchers.

“The donation is largely for those on the frontlines to be appropriately outfitted and suited,” said Bonnie Gould Rothberg.

As an oncology hospitalist at Smilow Cancer Hospital, Bonnie Rothberg said the fight against COVID-19 at Yale is personal. She has taken on night shifts at Smilow to care for hospitalized cancer patients, as resident house staff who previously filled the role have been reassigned to treat those affected by the virus.

“The focus of any donation that Jonathan and I make is to impact the ones that we love and … have the utmost respect for,” Bonnie Rothberg said. 

In a Yale School of Medicine press release, Jonathan Rothberg similarly emphasized his family’s motivation to donate. 

“Our doctors, nurses and first responders and all of our health care workers are saving the lives of people we love,” he said. “We each need to do everything we can to keep them safe and let them know that we are there for them.”

The Rothberg donation comes as Yale’s clinicians, investigators, faculty and staff collaborate to treat patients affected by the virus, contribute public health policy and conduct essential research. Researchers are working together across disciplines to develop promising therapeutic strategies, Brown said.

In the past weeks, Yale’s Coalition for Health Innovation in Medical Emergencies, or CHIME, has been researching and prototyping face masks and sterilization techniques with the help of experts from diverse academic backgrounds. 

Bonnie Rothberg said she has witnessed this interdisciplinary cooperation at Yale and within the Yale New Haven Health System. As part of her inpatient assignment at Smilow, she has participated in medical oncology weekly town halls to foster collaborative discussions on the latest COVID-19 trends and research. Their research panelists have included Akiko Iwasaki, professor of immunobiology; Naftali Kaminski, professor of internal medicine; and Laurie Santos, professor of psychology and head of Silliman College.

“This is the worst enemy the world has faced in 70 years, and it is ruthless,” stated Jonathan Rothberg in a press release.“But we know the enemy and we can defeat it by supporting each other in our generation’s finest hour.” 

Jonathan Rothberg is the founder of multiple life science and medical device companies. He received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama in 2015.

Evan Collins | evan.collins@yale.edu