Nearly a decade after the close of its last major fund-raising campaign, Yale has begun a five-year drive to raise $3 billion, a major portion of which will be directed toward science and medicine.

At the public launch of the “Yale Tomorrow” campaign on September 30, President Richard C. Levin announced that donors have already committed $1.3 billion in gifts and pledges during its quiet phase, which began in mid-2004.

The public campaign kicked off with a day of presentations by noted faculty and alumni—including medical school professors Irwin M. Braverman, M.D. ’55; HS ’59, FW ’62; Christopher K. Breuer, M.D.; Carolyn M. Mazure, Ph.D.; Milissa A. McKee, M.D.; R. Lawrence Moss, M.D.; W. Mark Saltzman, Ph.D.; Bennett A. Shaywitz, M.D.; Sally E. Shaywitz, M.D.; and Tian Xu, Ph.D.—followed by a multimedia program narrated by actor Sam Waterston, a 1962 Yale College alumnus, and a gala dinner in University Commons.

The campaign is organized around four major priority areas: “Yale College,” “The Arts,” “The Sciences” and “The World.” In the sciences Yale will seek support for programs focused on translating basic science insights into clinically relevant work. Among the priorities are programs in neural degeneration and repair, stem cell biology, translational immunology, functional genomics and clinical investigation. The ultimate goal is to find new and better methods of diagnosing and treating illness, said medical school Dean Robert J. Alpern, M.D., Ensign Professor of Medicine.

According to Inge Reichenbach, Yale’s vice president for development, the campaign has set specific goals for the medical school, including the establishment of new endowed professorships, financial aid for students, new buildings for research and clinical care, technology resources, educational innovation and support for the cancer hospital addition to Yale-New Haven Hospital.

The drive comes at a time when the university is enjoying record growth in its endowment, which grew from $5.8 billion in 1997, at the conclusion of the university’s “… and for Yale” campaign, to $18 billion for the fiscal year ending June 30. During that same nine-year period, the medical school’s endowment has risen from $446.6 million to $1.5 billion. The university has an operating budget of $1.67 billion for 2006-2007, of which $676 million is expected to come from the endowment.

But the size of the endowment, second only to Harvard’s $29 billion nest egg, does not mean the university has all the resources it needs to grow in new directions, according to campaign leaders. “To expand Yale beyond its current scale and scope, to build the Yale of tomorrow, we will need new financial resources,” said President Levin. “Above all, we need to complete the transformation of Yale from a local to a regional to a national to an international university.”

Yale’s wealth is an issue that fundraising staff must address directly with potential donors, said Jancy Houck, M.A., who became the university’s associate vice president for development and director of medical development and alumni affairs on September 18. Income from the current endowment was committed to specific items at the time of the original gift decades or more ago, she said. “It takes new resources to do new things,” said Houck.

The same is true with grant dollars that come from the federal government, foundations and corporations, she added. For example, the $57.3-million Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) that the medical school received in October (see related story), the largest grant ever received by the school, also presents an opportunity to engage donors in conversations about the medical school’s future.

“This support from the National Institutes of Health doesn’t take away from our need for philanthropy, because grants are very, very specific. You have to use the funding in the exact manner outlined in the proposal,” said Houck. “The philanthropy that we would be looking for would be for items that are not included in a big grant, where people could really leverage their gift, knowing that there is a certain amount of activity that is going to take place already.”