Berthiaume family’s $20 million gift endows Institute for Precision Health

Author: Dennis Brown

Students in lab. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Douglas and Diana Berthiaume of Andover, Massachusetts, have made a $20 million gift to the University of Notre Dame to endow the newly established Berthiaume Institute for Precision Health.

“The groundbreaking research conducted by the Berthiaume Institute for Precision Health is vital in preventing and treating disease, promoting wellness and reducing health disparities, especially among underserved populations,” Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., said. “We are immensely grateful to Doug and Diana, whose vision and leadership have made it possible for Notre Dame to play an integral role in this growing field.”               

The Berthiaume Institute, a successor to Notre Dame’s Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics Initiative, develops new tools to understand variations in humans at the molecular and cellular levels.

“The field of precision health is a game changer in medicine,” Santiago Schnell, the William K. Warren Foundation Dean of Notre Dame’s College of Science, said. “It will help doctors figure out the right treatment for a particular patient much more quickly, and could expand a doctor’s toolbox through new discoveries. 

“I’m grateful to Doug and Diana Berthiaume for their generous support to the University’s biomedical enterprise. Their gift will accelerate development of lab test platforms, resulting in improved care for millions of patients. The institute will encourage scientific investigation and education at Notre Dame through collaborations with other universities, including clinical trials and pharmacy research programs. Thanks to Doug and Diana’s vision, we can say that the future of precision medicine is here at the University of Notre Dame.”

The institute has more than 70 affiliated faculty members — and over 100 affiliated graduate and undergraduate students — who are searching for solutions to a wide range of significant health problems, including cystic fibrosis, antibiotic resistance, ovarian cancer, Parkinson’s disease, kidney disease, heart disease and COVID-19-related conditions. The researchers seek to understand the molecular, cellular and environmental factors underlying each person’s health, particularly those from underserved populations, and ensure that new discoveries, data and technologies benefit all.

The Berthiaumes’ gift already has helped Notre Dame faculty members secure more than $20 million in additional health research funding, primarily from federal sources. Institute faculty also are working closely with a network of corporate partners, including Pfizer Inc., Eli Lilly and Co., Merck & Co., Genentech Inc. and AbbVie Inc. on high-priority research projects.

“The future of prevention and treatment lies in being able to find, measure and analyze very minute chemical and biological differences between each of us,” said Paul Bohn, the Arthur J. Schmitt Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and director of the Berthiaume Institute. “With this knowledge, doctors and patients will be able to detect diseases sooner and pursue more effective, personalized therapies.”

Douglas Berthiaume is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts. Until his retirement in 2015, he served as president and chief executive officer of Waters Corp., a global company based in Massachusetts specializing in precision analytical equipment for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. He currently serves as chairman of the board of trustees of Boston Children’s Hospital.

Diana Berthiaume earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Bentley College (today Bentley University), a private business school in Waltham, Massachusetts. She oversees the operations of the Berthiaume Family Foundation.

“Diana and I are pleased to be able to support the world-class scientific capabilities at the University of Notre Dame and push the frontiers of precision medicine forward,” Doug Berthiaume said.

The Berthiaumes previously created an endowment at Notre Dame for the Berthiaume Family Professor of Neuroscience and have been members of University’s President’s Circle since 2017. They also are longtime supporters of the University of Massachusetts and Boston-area health care institutions, including Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

The Berthiaumes reside in Andover, Massachusetts, and have two daughters, Maggie and Abby, a 2020 graduate of Notre Dame.