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Vagelos Gift to SAS Supports Scholars in Molecular Life Sciences

Trustee Chair Roy Vagelos has given the School of Arts and Sciences a $10 million gift to support undergraduates working in the molecular sciences. President Judith Rodin announced the gift to establish the Roy Vagelos Scholars in Molecular Life Sciences at the November 10th dedication of the University's new Institute for Advanced Science and Technology (IAST).

During dedication ceremonies Rodin noted Vagelos' strong commitment to science education and thanked Vagelos and his wife Diana for their many contributions to the University, especially for funding the Roy and Diana Vagelos Laboratories, a major part of the IAST building that was the center of a day of special activities on campus.

During his time as the CEO of Merck and Co., Inc., Vagelos was cited for a leadership style that made Merck, year after year, the "most admired corporation in America." After developing a medication for another purpose that was ultimately found to cure River Blindness, a devastating disease occurring primarily in underdeveloped countries unable to pay for such medications, Merck donated quantities to the World Health Organization for free distribution. As chair of Penn's Trustees, Vagelos has been a strong advocate of the need for Penn to take a leading position in the life sciences. With this important gift, he has greatly enhanced the College's position in this area. "From the human genome project and DNA fingerprinting to imaging-based brain function research, modern approaches to the biological sciences increasingly utilize complex technologies that require advanced knowledge of chemistry and physics," said Walter D. Wales, Interim Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. "The Vagelos Scholars Program will insure that undergraduates have the opportunity to have hands-on research experiences at the cutting edge of this growing field."

"This magnificent affirmation of Roy's belief in the value of a cross disciplinary educational program in the life sciences will enable Penn to attract the very best undergraduate science students," said President Rodin. "They will be tomorrow's leaders and laureates."

The Vagelos Scholarships will support students who are looking to add an understanding of the basic technologies used in the molecular life sciences to their work in biochemistry or chemistry. The program will admit 10 students per year as freshmen, with participants required to do either a double major with another science or be a submatriculant for a master's degree in either chemistry or biotechnology.

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