Janie Elizabeth “Liza” Bailey, a member of multiple boards at The Johns Hopkins University who also happens to be a descendent of one of its founder’s siblings, looks at “a very long time horizon.” For her, that’s a large part of the appeal in giving to the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences: Discoveries that unlock basic biological principles won’t affect medical practice this year or next, but they are crucial in laying the foundation for future breakthroughs. “I was happy to give to something that I felt would be unique but for which it’s very hard to raise money,” she says.
And it’s not just the research itself that lays a foundation, Bailey says. “Promoting young scientists so they can establish their careers bears so much fruit over time,” she says. “It’s an area where Hopkins excels, in part because the interaction among people who are there now is so rich and fulfilling. It’s a great environment.”
One area of the institute’s research that Bailey finds particularly interesting is centered on telomeres, which protect the ends of our chromosomes and shrink as we age. This research, led by Carol Greider and Mary Armanios, provides insights into “how and why we age—questions with big implications for the health care system and for society as a whole,” Bailey says. “Mary’s work also involves telomeres’ role in rare but terrible diseases. It touches not only on causes, but also on possible treatments.”
That’s true, ultimately, of all of Johns Hopkins’ basic biomedical research. “I think if we can have a breakthrough in one area, there is great potential in terms of health care and impact on patients,” Bailey says.