Whatever MIT touches turns to gold,” says Tom Peterson ’57, adding that is why he recently made a major gift to support MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
“What separates the Koch Institute from the research done in universities or hospitals, is its unique methods,” Peterson says. “Koch will house chemical engineering, materials science, and physics, just to name a few (disciplines), under the same roof as the more traditional biological sciences. The research that results can absolutely change the world.”
Last year, Peterson was diagnosed with colon cancer, the disease that claimed his wife’s life eight years ago. “Obviously, I knew that whatever gifts I made to MIT would not be in time to help my wife and myself, but the potential for real solutions at Koch and the knowledge that many other people will benefit is an amazing experience to share.”
In addition to this gift, Peterson has recently made a major gift to the MIT Libraries to catalogue the Vail Collection, one of its most distinctive collections. He has also made gifts to support lunar research in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences; to the McGovern Institute; and to the Chorallaries, an MIT student singing group.
Peterson studied geophysics at MIT and later studied business at Boston University. When his father fell ill in the 1950s, he returned to Cleveland to run the family business, a company that manufactured components for the energy and communications industries. Ten years later, he founded Motion Picture Sound, a firm that produced audio for movies and television. In business for 20 years, his clients included PBS, NASA, and Disney World. An inventor with international patents, Peterson spends much of his time researching the Earth’s magnetism. He also collects rare books and owns 4,000 volumes, some dating back to the 1500’s.
MIT’s Koch Institute is now located on campus in what was formerly a candy factory. A new state-of-the-art facility is scheduled to open later this year.
“When the Institute moves into the new building, it’s going to be great,” Peterson says. “Once they have the various disciplines in the laboratories housed under the same roof, it’s going to be an exciting opportunity for the world.”