Professor donates $21M to NYU Langone Medical Center

A 77-year-old New York University microbiology professor decided it was payback time. Yesterday, NYU Langone Medical Center announced that Dr. Jan Vilcek, MD, PhD, and his wife, Marica, had donated $21 million to fund research and education at the center, which consists of three hospitals and the NYU School of Medicine, according to an NYU press release.

The doctor said the gift was a way to pay NYU back for taking a chance on him. "When I came to this county with nothing, NYU gave me the opportunity to prove myself," Dr. Vilcek told the Wall Street Journal. "It was a courageous move on the part of the university."

Part of the gift will go toward buying and renovating a 26th Street dorm for medical students. Another portion will go toward creating a merit scholarship fund that covers full tuition.

Vilcek and his wife immigrated to the U.S. from Czechoslovakia in 1965. When he was 31, Dr. Vilcek took a job at the medical center as an assistant professor. In the late 1980s, he and colleagues developed an artificial antibody that was used to create Remicade, a drug that treats inflammatory diseases such as colitis and rheumatoid arthritis. Vilcek has plowed the profits from the drug he created with a biotech company back into charity.

Yesterday's gift was not the largest the Vilceks have given NYU. In 2005, the couple donated $105 million to the medical school.

To learn more:
- read the press release
- here's the Wall Street Journal story