In Memoriam Georg Heinrich “Heini” Thyssen-Bornemisza Salk Institute mourns loss of influential former Board member

The Salk Institute lost a dear friend and former Trustee when Georg Heinrich “Heini” Thyssen-Bornemisza died on September 30, 2022.

The chairman of the NOMIS Foundation, Thyssen studied mathematics at the University of Munich (Germany) and received a law degree from the University of Zurich (Switzerland). In 2008, he established the NOMIS Foundation, whose vision is to “create a spark” in the world of science by enabling and supporting pioneering research in the natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities that benefit humankind and our planet. The foundation executes its mission through awards, fellowships, research grants, alliances and partnerships, and network development.

Also a former Salk Trustee, Thyssen’s leadership and generosity helped accelerate scientific efforts at the Institute over the years, always with a focus on allowing Salk scientists to continue their pursuit of high-risk, high-impact research.

“Salk will be forever indebted to the generosity and kindness Heini showed the Institute over the years,” says Professor Susan Kaech, director of Salk’s NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis and NOMIS Chair. “He loved Salk because our scientists ask bold and innovative questions, often at the intersection between fields where the greatest discoveries can arise. His legacy will reverberate in Salk labs for decades to come. We will miss him greatly.”

Thyssen’s financial support led to the launch of Salk’s NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis in 2008. The center aims to shed light on new mechanisms that control immunity to infection and cancer, define key molecules involved in the body’s response to injury and infection, elucidate the rules of engagement between the body’s microbiome and immune system, and understand why inflammatory processes spin out of control under some circumstances.

In 2021, the NOMIS Foundation provided additional funds to endow a NOMIS Center postdoctoral fellowship fund and for faculty recruitment to sustain and expand the impact of Salk’s research in immunity and inflammation. Additionally, the foundation awarded a NOMIS Distinguished Scientist and Scholar Award to Professor Ronald Evans in 2020, and awarded Professor and Laboratory Head Janelle Ayres with a special grant in 2018 for the novel study of mechanisms to promote health.

The Salk Institute extends its deepest condolences to the Thyssen family and the NOMIS Foundation.

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