$2 Million Gift from the Blavatnik Family Foundation to Support Scientists in Training at Penn Biomedical Graduate Studies Program

The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has received a $2 million gift from the Blavatnik Family Foundation to establish the Blavatnik Family Fellowship in Biomedical Research in the Penn Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS) program. Headed by industrialist and philanthropist Len Blavatnik, the Blavatnik Family Foundation has a strong history of supporting talented young scientists at premier institutions around the globe.

The Blavatnik Family Fellowship will be competitively awarded to six Penn BGS students for each of the next four academic years. By 2021, the Blavatnik Family Fellowship will have impacted 24 students, all Blavatnik Family Fellows, by providing a crucial boost at the very moment these talented trainees are launching as independent investigators. The Fellowship ensures support for students during their work with their mentors, a pivotal relationship in their scientific journey.

“We are delighted to be able to partner with the Blavatnik Family Foundation in accelerating critical research by cultivating outstanding young minds at the beginning of their careers,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “We are deeply grateful to Len Blavatnik and the Blavatnik Family Foundation for this visionary gift to Penn Biomedical Graduate Studies—one of the strongest training programs in the nation—and their support for the next generation of scientific thought leaders.”

The inaugural class of Blavatnik Family Fellows was chosen in July 2018 from many nominees from the BGS program. The students selected are Divyansh Agarwal, Edward Chuang, Jinyang Li, Kamen Simeonov, Huchuan “Cedric” Xia and Linda Zhou. They are focusing on research projects with translational implications across many disease areas, including: ocular diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, pancreatic cancer, cancer metastasis, psychiatric disorders; and trinucleotide repeat expansion disorders, such as Huntington’s disease and Fragile X Syndrome.

J. Larry Jameson, EVP of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine, explained the power and influence these students bring to their research labs: “Many of our students are playing key roles in advancing major breakthroughs here at Penn thanks to BGS’s thoughtful, expert mentors, a world-class research infrastructure, and a culture of collaboration. With the generous support of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, our talented Blavatnik Family Fellows will be able to transform their scientific passions into discoveries that improve human health.”

Len Blavatnik, a prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist, is the founder of Access Industries, a privately-held, global industrial group.

“By establishing this landmark fellowship at Penn, we hope to empower talented students to pursue high-risk, high-reward projects in the lab,” said Mr. Blavatnik. “This investment in our future will benefit cutting-edge science now and over time as these trainees grow and drive innovation in their respective fields.”

Mr. Blavatnik’s forward-thinking philanthropy has made an impact in both the United States and abroad, enriching the research landscape and creating an elite community of creative and ambitious young scientists.

The Blavatnik Family Foundation is an active supporter of leading educational, scientific, cultural and charitable institutions in the United States, Europe and throughout the world. The Foundation is headed by Mr. Blavatnik, an American and British industrialist and philanthropist. He is the founder and chairman of Access Industries, a privately-held U.S. industrial group with global interests in natural resources, media, technology and real estate.