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$10 Million for Vagelos Scholars

Trustees Chairman P. Roy Vagelos and his wife Diana have pledged a gift of $10 million to fund the Vagelos Scholars Program, which President Judith Rodin described as "a rigorous new program in molecular life sciences for undergraduate scholars" when she announced it last week.

Dr. Rodin made the announcement at a luncheon during dedication ceremonies for the Roy and Diana Vagelos laboratories of the Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, the $52 million biomedical research facilities that will serve SAS, SEAS and PennMed researchers.

Dr. Vagelos cited as models of Penn's pioneering interdisciplinary programs the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology and the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business. The Vagelos Program is "built on the recognition that all aspects of modern day medicine or biological research are focused on the properties of the molecule, which is chemistry. Thus, whether it be the human genome project, the latest approaches to understanding the brain works, the discovery of a new treatment for disease, or the provision for an adequate food supply, the science of chemistry plays an irreplaceable role in these endeavors."

The former chairman and CEO of Merck & Co. added, "Future drug discovery will be based upon understanding things on a molecular level. Modern life sciences research is extremely interactive. The University of Pennsylvania has more interdisciplinary teaching and research than any institution I know."

Beginning in the fall of 1998, ten undergraduates a year will be chosen to work on "frontier problems in molecular life sciences" as Vagelos Scholars, with stipends for all summer research projects and financial aid for those in need. They will pursue a coherent course of study that supplements existing majors in chemistry or biochemistry with additional physics, biology and mathematics. Faculty in SAS, PennMed, and the Veterinary and Dental Schools are expected to provide some of the research experiences.

Return to:Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, November 18 1997, Volume 44, No. 13