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Profiles in generosity

Irene T. Cheng, SM ’78

New York, New York

January 4, 2024
Irene T. Cheng, SM ’78

“Thinking big, aiming high, and making a difference were rules of the road embedded during my time at MIT,” says Irene Cheng, SM ’78, who went on to a successful Wall Street career as a managing director at Lazard Asset Management after earning a graduate degree in chemical engineering from the Institute. “I was helped along the way to reach these ambitions and hope to do the same for others. Who knows—someone whose life I touch may end up shaking the world one day.”

Shedding light on the workings of the human brain: The Irene T. Cheng Fund at MIT supports graduate fellowships in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Cheng also volunteers on the department’s visiting committee. “The brain stands out as a frontier still not well explored, with huge ramifications spanning individual medicine and artificial intelligence,” she says. “MIT is perfectly placed to be at the forefront of this kind of challenge, with the sheer scale and scope of its talent, its interdisciplinary orientation, and the passion that pervades its culture.”

Supporting exciting and essential work: “I feel inspired to share in this great adventure,” Cheng says. “Kudos to MIT for being able to attract some of the most promising young talent from all across the globe. How fantastic to be able to engage with these individuals and to share in their enthusiasm and dreams.”

Help MIT build a better world. For more information, contact Amy Goldman: 617.253.4082; Or visit

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