A decades-long friendship and a shared passion for basic science has inspired a $15 million gift to the Division of Biology & Biomedical Sciences (DBBS) at Washington University in St. Louis to fund undergraduate programs and graduate student fellowships in the life sciences.
DBBS’ founding director, P. Roy Vagelos, MD, and his wife, Diana Vagelos, made the gift to honor former Chancellor William H. Danforth, MD, who died last year at age 94. Roy Vagelos, an internationally renowned physician-scientist and pharmaceutical executive, created the DBBS program in 1973 with Danforth’s unwavering support.
A pioneering model for interdisciplinary education in the life sciences, DBBS united basic science departments from the School of Medicine with the Department of Biology in Arts & Sciences to offer unparalleled training and research opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and medical students. Such collaborations elevated the caliber of the university’s life sciences curriculum while also advancing scientific discovery and innovation.
“Bill Danforth was convinced that the improvement of human health would depend on good doctors as well as new knowledge emerging from biomedical research,” said Vagelos, chairman of the board at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals since 1995. “He strongly felt that a great university medical school would be rooted in science. We shared this belief.”
The Vageloses’ gift establishes an endowment designated for two purposes: $10 million for new graduate student fellowships across DBBS, particularly in novel research areas, and $5 million to bolster programming for undergraduates. In recognition of the Vageloses’ generosity, the university will rename DBBS the Roy and Diana Vagelos Division of Biology & Biomedical Sciences.
“In founding DBBS, Roy forged unprecedented connections between academic departments, Washington University’s main campuses, and undergraduate students and medical school faculty,” Chancellor Andrew D. Martin said. “Fifty years later, the division remains a nexus for pathbreaking science conducted at the university. This gift will raise DBBS to even greater heights and expand its reach to more aspiring physicians and scientists.”