Columbia University Gets $175M for Biomedical Research

Roy and Diana Vagelos are giving $125 million as an endowment for Ph.D. student funding and $50 million to support physician-scientists in biology and clinical medicine.
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  • The gift will create an academic structure that allows students to take risks to make history in biomedical research.
  • The couple's last gift was $250 million in 2017 to offer debt-free education for medical students.
  • An advisory board of scientists and experts from other institutions will help guide the institute.

Biomedical students at Columbia University looking to make history and take risks got help to do that, thanks to a massive gift from two longtime donors.

Roy and Diana Vagelos gifted $175 million to Columbia University on March 6 to create the Vagelos Institute for Biomedical Research Education. This is the couple's second transformative gift to the school. They gave $250 million in 2017 to offer debt-free education for medical students.

According to Columbia, the institute will be home to Ph.D. students pursuing creative, disruptive ideas in biomedical science. The gift will address student financial challenges and professional uncertainty and help reduce the disproportionate financial burdens that deter historically excluded groups.

The gift gives Columbia funds to create an academic model that will help encourage and accelerate the intellectual risk-taking it takes to make historic health science research advances.

The couple is splitting their gift into a $125 million endowment for Ph.D. student funding and a $50 million gift to support aspiring physician-scientists in biology and clinical medicine.

"Diana and I each vividly recall the difference that financial support made in creating a sense of freedom and instilling the confidence to pursue our passions early in our lives," Roy Vagelos said in a Columbia University announcement. "We want to give others this same freedom by removing the obstacles facing researchers and scientists in training."

The institute will be guided by an external scientific advisory board of scientists and graduate biomedical education experts from schoolsuniversities like Yale University, Princeton University, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

"This extraordinary generosity from Roy and Diana Vagelos continues their visionary support of education at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, which so appropriately bears their name," said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger in the announcement.

"It also continues their trailblazing efforts to rethink and strengthen the future of science and medical education at Columbia and around the world."