So many families are touched by cancer,” says Jen Johnson. “I have cancer myself. My dream is that the MIT researchers will develop a vaccine so people will never get this disease. And I think they can do it. I really do.”
Chuck and Jen Johnson of Racine, Wisconsin, recently made a major gift to the Institute to create a clinical research fellow at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. “These research fellows will be the best in the world,” Jen says.
“We’re really impressed with MIT’s leadership and its multidisciplinary approach,” says Chuck. “By bringing together mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists to find solutions, we’ll have a better chance of making progress. The idea that we might be able to do something to make a difference is amazing.”
Chuck Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in civil engineering in 1952. In 1955, he earned an MIT degree in building, engineering, and construction, a course that’s now civil engineering. After a stint in the army, and a few years working with his father, a general contractor, in 1959 he joined IBM in Milwaukee, where he was manager of systems engineering. In 1970, he co-founded International Mathematical and Statistical Libraries, now Visual Numerics, a computer software company in Houston, where he currently is chairman. For 30 years, he served as an MIT educational counselor, working with the admissions office to recruit the best students.
Chuck believes that bringing together experts from various fields is the right strategy to find cures for cancer. “Our feeling is that we’re part of the team, and now we’ve got a chance to do something significant. We think that MIT is the place where big things are going to happen.”
“The researchers at MIT are exceptional, and we absolutely believe that they can develop a cure for this disease,” Jen says. “We never would have made the gift if we didn’t believe in them.”
The couple, who have six children and six grandchildren, have made multiple gifts to MIT. “But we are so thrilled about making this gift,” Jen says. “I’m not sure that they’ll have a cure for me, but certainly for the people who come after me. I absolutely believe that the people at MIT are going to find a solution. It makes me feel proud that we’re part of it.”