Translating Science into Impact

Rob Cañizares and members of BTI's leadership celebrating Cane-Bridge Foundation's $1M gift to BTI's translational program.

Left to right: Rob Cañizares (BTI Board Member), David Stern (BTI President), Georgia Lesh (Director of Donor Relations), Paul Debbie (Director of Research and New Business Development), Julien Fey (Director of Technology Transfer)

Today, the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) is taking a significant step forward in its mission to bridge the gap between scientific discovery and real-world application. Thanks to a generous $1M gift from the Cane-Bridge Foundation, BTI has launched an innovative translational program called “Project Vault!” to propel plant science discoveries into applications that tackle global life science challenges. 

“The Cane-Bridge Foundation’s support is vital to accelerate our mission of advancing scientific progress in areas like global health, food security, and environmental sustainability,” remarked Julien Fey, BTI’s Director of Technology Transfer. 

This substantial gift was made possible by Roberto Cañizares, who serves on BTI’s Board of Directors and on the board of the Cane-Bridge Foundation. 

BTI President David Stern lauded Project Vault! as a visionary concept that can revolutionize the Institute’s impact. “This investment marks a key milestone in BTI’s journey toward its centennial in 2024. The initiative will expand our research and offer new avenues of opportunity for early-career scientists,” he added. 

During a recent ceremony at BTI, Cañizares outlined the purpose of the gift. “We hope to rapidly expand BTI’s capacity to translate the Institute’s groundbreaking research into real-world solutions,” he said. “Our goal is to enable the Institute to take more risks in the pursuit of multiple potential applications to ultimately create a self-sustaining model that supports a research culture delivering continuous societal impact and contributes to its financial strength.”   

With a BS in Engineering Physics from Cornell University, an MS in Applied Economics, and an MBA from the Johnson College of Business, Cañizares built a successful career as a global business leader, focusing on building companies in emerging markets. Cañizares and his wife Gail, who he met at Cornell, founded the Cane-Bridge Foundation to “Propel Transformative Leaps” in non-profit organizations. Their generous donation and Cañizares’ commitment to BTI’s Board underscore their belief in the power of scientific research to drive global societal improvement. 

Paul Debbie, BTI’s Director of Research and New Business Development, expressed gratitude for the Foundation’s support. “This donation will significantly enlarge our translational science program, enabling us to deliver beneficial technologies to those we serve, including farmers, healthcare patients, and society.” 

BTI Board Chair Greg Galvin further emphasized Cañizares’ contributions, stating, “Rob brings great enthusiasm and engagement to his role on the BTI Board of Directors. This gift is tangible evidence of Rob’s leadership and vision for how BTI can benefit our world.” 

About Cane-Bridge Foundation
Founded ten years ago to support quantum leaps in non-profit organizations that are ready to make a major change, it helps selected foundations raise themselves to a higher level. In addition to project funds, Cane-Bridge contributes consulting assistance, including guidance to adapt management processes/practices with demonstrated high effectiveness in private industry.

For more information, contact:
Mike Carroll, Communications Manager,