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Gifts That Keep Giving (and Giving)

Pictured: Donors Elizabeth G. Riley and Daniel E. Smith, Jr. attend a virtual celebration of a chair they established along with the first incumbent chairholder Dr. Susan A. Slaugenhaupt, Dr. Harry W. Orf, Senior Vice President for Research at Mass General, and former Mass General president Dr. Peter L. Slavin.

Donor Story

Gifts That Keep Giving (and Giving)

What’s the best way to celebrate a generous philanthropic gift? Well, if you ask Mass General donors Elizabeth Riley and Daniel Smith Jr., they would say it’s by making another generous philanthropic gift.

Katie Quackenbush Spiegel
November 18, 2021

On July 28, 2021, more than 160 members of the Massachusetts General Hospital community, as well as the donors’ family and friends, gathered virtually to celebrate the creation of the Elizabeth G. Riley and Daniel E. Smith, Jr. Endowed MGH Research Institute Chair.

The chair’s inaugural incumbent, Susan A. Slaugenhaupt, PhD, is an accomplished geneticist, professor of Neurology at Mass General and Harvard Medical School and an investigator in the Center for Genomic Medicine, where she runs the Slaugenhaupt Lab. She has received many prestigious awards, including the Elizabeth G. Riley and Daniel E. Smith, Jr. MGH Research Scholar 2013-2018 award, which was also made possible by a gift from Research Institute Advisory Council member Elizabeth Riley and her husband Daniel Smith in 2013.

The new $2.5 million Elizabeth G. Riley and Daniel E. Smith, Jr. Endowed MGH Research Institute Chair is the Research Institute’s sixth such endowed chair and will support Dr. Slaugenhaupt’s research investigating two devastating neurological disorders, familial dysautonomia (FD) and mucolipidosis type IV (MLIV).

A Surprise Announcement

During the July 28 celebration of their gift to establish the chair, donors Elizabeth Riley and Daniel Smith surprised attendees with an announcement of another new commitment of $2.5 million to support Dr. Slaugenhaupt in her role as scientific director of the Mass General Research Institute.

Susan A. Slaugenhaupt, PhD
Susan A. Slaugenhaupt, PhD

The Research Institute was established in 2014 to guide, support and promote Mass General’s unrivaled community of scientists as they advance the future of medicine through lifesaving science. This new gift provides support for its activities and programs that promote science at Mass General and beyond.

“We’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to invest in your future,” Elizabeth Riley said to Dr. Slaugenhaupt during this announcement. “One of the major tenets of entrepreneurship is to find the best person at their job and give them the most money you can, and they will solve huge problems — as you have already demonstrated.”

Far-Reaching Impact

Endowed MGH Research Institute Chairs are unique in that they are not tied to a specific department or field, and the work of chair-holders often cuts across Mass General’s many departments and centers, that all play a key role in preventing disease and improving health care and the lives of patients and families everywhere.

“It’s exciting to imagine that future incumbents may work in areas that have yet to be defined or even discovered,” said former Mass General president Peter L. Slavin, MD. “Elizabeth and Dan, your generous gift is a remarkable philanthropic investment in Mass General. It has a powerful impact on the incumbent, the Research Institute and, most importantly, on patients.”

“Our family is very proud to be even remotely affiliated with what you do and how you do it,” said Elizabeth Riley. “You have our full support; we wish you all the best and we will be right there by your side.”

To donate to the Mass General Research Institute or for more information, please contact us.

One of the major tenets of entrepreneurship is to find the best person at their job and give them the most money you can, and they will solve huge problems.

Elizabeth G. Riley

The Research Institute: Saving Lives Through Science

The Massachusetts General Hospital Research Institute is the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with a community of more than 9,500 people working across more than 30 institutes, centers and departments.

Our researchers work side-by-side with physicians to pioneer the latest scientific advancements for curing disease and healing patients in Boston, across the United States and around the world.

To learn more about the Research Institute, please visit our website.