$7.5 million donation, new name ring in future for BBMB department

Elizabeth Polsdofer

After a generous donation of $7.5 million to the biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology department, also known as BBMB, by the Roy J. Carver Trust, the department will be renamed the Roy J. Carver Department of BBMB.

“I think the interest in giving this money is to facilitate growth in a very specific area that they felt this department had the core strength in, i.e., biomolecular structure and function,” said Guru Rao, professor and chairman of the department of BBMB.

“The department has a good core group of people who are experts in this area and have generated lots of dollars in federal grants over the last several years, and in addition to that, the university itself has a good core structural biology expertise,” he said.

The $7.5 million the Carver Trust has donated will go to hiring more faculty and instrumentation that will enhance the research goals of the department of BBMB.

“Philanthropy from individuals and charitable organizations is important to help Iowa State assemble the pieces necessary for an outstanding university,” said Labh Hira, a member of the Advisory Board for the ISU Foundation. “Recruiting and retaining excellent faculty and staff, recruiting and supporting students, enhancing research space and equipment, and providing strong educational and research experiences for our students are all important to maintain a competitive environment for education, research and outreach.”

Hira said the department of BBMB is the second academic unit at Iowa State to be named. The first is the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, named in honor of Robert and Diane Greenlee.

A focus of the Carver Trust is to improve the ISU campus through gifts, and it should be noted that the trust has made a difference all around the university.

“The Carver Trust’s support has touched many areas of campus and has spanned scholarship and faculty support to instrumentation to construction and renovation,” Hira said.

“In many cases, key pieces of equipment purchased with Carver Trust funds enabled faculty to expand new lines of research or develop centers that include research, education and training initiatives made possible by this advanced instrumentation.”

Rao has very high hopes for the impact of the $7.5 million donation to the department of BBMB.

“I’ll fast forward five years: I think the most exciting thing is that we would like to see this place be on par with Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, and that we will get the best students who want to come here to learn structural biology, and we will be competitive with these universities for the best students,” Rao said.

“So what I would see happening in five years is that the money that Carver has given us, along with support from the Colleges, will enable us to hire the best faculty, buy the best instrumentation and attract the best students who will eventually make this the most exciting place for them to come to.”