Jan T. Vilcek, a research scientist whose work at the New York University School of Medicine led to the development of an anti-inflammatory drug, will give the school, where he has worked since the 1960s, an estimated $105 million, the New York Times reports.
According to the Times, the gift will be divided into three parts — a lump sum in cash, the rights to some of Vilcek's future royalties, and a trust — the values of which the school declined to detail. The gift also will be used to recruit scientists and upgrade laboratories, with a portion of the money marked for the school's ear, nose, and throat department.
A professor of microbiology, Vilcek said he was giving most of his fortune to the medical school that nurtured him professionally and that cared for his wife, Marica, when she was seriously ill. The Vilceks escaped communist Czechoslovakia in 1964, nearly twenty years after he and his Jewish parents were hidden by strangers during the Nazi occupation of that country. That experience, he said, left a powerful impression on him about the value of helping people.
An early researcher of interferon, Vilcek headed the team whose discoveries led to the development of Remicade, a widely prescribed drug for treating Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. His work also may have implications for the treatment of other diseases such as ulcerative colitis.
"For him to put his good fortune back into the medical school, into medical research, is not only wonderful but unusual," said Robert M. Glickman, dean of the medical school. "It's the largest gift in the history of the medical school, and I think the largest by any faculty member to any school anywhere."