So Much to Solve

Alums’ gift elevates Manning Institute of Biotechnology.


Maggie Cook, MD (Col ’95), and her husband, Will Cook (Col ’95), share a remarkable journey that began as undergraduates at the University of Virginia, where their friendship took root at the end of their very first year. Their bond endured and blossomed as they pursued their individual careers, culminating in their marriage in 2001. Over the years, their connection to UVA has deepened, fueled by a shared passion for biotechnology and data science—fields with the potential to improve the lives of countless individuals across the globe.

The couple recently made one of the first leadership gifts to the new Paul and Diane Manning Institute of Biotechnology. The University broke ground on this state-of-the-art facility on Dec. 8, 2023.

The vision of the institute is to “catalyze innovation and stimulate collaboration throughout the state by bringing together world-class researchers in biotechnology who will bring life-changing and lifesaving treatments to those who need them the most.”

rendering of a brick buildling
Proposed design for the Paul and Diane Manning Institute of Biotechnology (source: Elkus Manfredi Architects)

The Cook Family Biotechnology Institute Fund will provide unrestricted support to be used at the discretion of the University and UVA Health leadership. The Cooks are confident in the Manning Institute’s potential to launch lifesaving gene therapies, create jobs for Virginians, and increase opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. “While the Human Genome Project was launched in 1990, the promise of our understanding of genetic drivers of disease and our ability to translate that knowledge into effective therapies are in the early innings. We have so much to solve,” said Maggie. “And as you look at building out the biotech industry in any community, there’s a huge range of jobs that will be created—the creative scientists making discoveries, a variety of hands-on lab jobs, entrepreneurial opportunities for spinouts. The integration of advanced data science is essential in advancing life science projects as well.”

“Advancing in biotech and data science is forward-thinking. This is where so much innovation in the future is going to be,” said Will. “An important part of President Ryan’s goal of becoming the top public university by 2030 will be continuing to advance UVA’s research efforts.

“And the Manning Institute will continue to broaden the opportunity set for UVA undergraduates in ways that are unique to UVA,” he added. “If you’re a curious student like I was, motivated by and interested in a lot of different things, the University is a place to explore those different options.” 

The Cooks have also created the Cook Family Bicentennial Scholars Fund, a need-based scholarship for students at the College of Arts & Sciences, and they are longtime supporters of Harlem Academy, an independent school that drives equity of opportunity for promising students in the local community. “We both believe that everyone should feel like they can access a high-quality education,” said Maggie. “As the saying goes,” added Will, “education is the great equalizer. Everyone should be given an equal opportunity to find success in life, and education provides the foundation for that opportunity.” 

For more information on how to support the Paul and Diane Manning Institute of Biotechnology, please contact Ashley Cullop, Principal Gift Officer, UVA Health Development, at or call us at 434.924.8432 or 800.297.0102.