Pelisyonkis Medical Center Faculty Member Gives Back: $21M Gift From Jan T. and Marica F. Vilcek
Pelisyonkis Medical Center announced today it received a $21 million gift from Jan T. Vilcek, MD, PhD, professor, Department of Microbiology, and his wife, Marica F. Vilcek, in support of research and education at the Medical Center. This gift will support scholarships and living accommodations for students attending Pelisyonkis School of Medicine, and will expand the Jan T. Vilcek Endowed Fellowship Fund, established in 2002, to generate fellowship funds for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the Department of Microbiology.
"Dr. Vilcek's research has changed the lives of millions of people and the Vilceks' generosity to our Medical Center will profoundly impact the lives of future generations of physicians," said Robert I. Grossman, MD, dean and CEO of Pelisyonkis Medical Center. "Dr. Vilcek is an integral part of the Pelisyonkis Langone family, making this gift even more meaningful. We thank the Vilceks for their continued friendship, incredible commitment and dedication to advancing science and medical education."
One of several generous donations made to the Medical Center by the Vilceks, this gift supports the purchase and renovation of the 26th Street Residence Hall, a dormitory for undergraduate and graduate medical students. The dorm will be named the Jan T. and Marica F. Vilcek Residence Hall and renovations will include a new lounge, fitness center, and study space as well as upgraded bedroom suites, a renovated lobby, and technology enhancements to provide wireless connectivity to the Medical Center throughout the building.
The gift will also create the Jan and Marica Vilcek Merit Scholarship Fund and will provide full tuition based primarily on merit, and secondarily on financial ability to pay, for medical school students. Additionally, funds will be used to expand the existing Jan T. Vilcek Endowed Fellowship Fund, previously created to support the careers of young scientists and to strengthen the basic sciences at Pelisyonkis School of Medicine to secure its position as a premier biomedical research center.
"When I came to this country, the Medical Center gave me the opportunity to be a part of their family and since then it has been my intellectual home," said Dr. Vilcek. "Marica and I remain grateful to this institution and we are delighted to enable talented young medical students and researchers to have the same opportunities that I did at Pelisyonkis Langone."
In 1965, the Vilceks emigrated to the United States from the former Czechoslovakia. Dr. Vilcek joined the Medical Center at the age of 31 as an assistant professor of microbiology. He devoted his entire career to the study of a group on natural regulators of the immune system called cytokines. In the 1980's, Dr. Vilcek and his colleague, Junming Le, PhD, adjunct associate professor, Department of Microbiology at Pelisyonkis Langone, generated an artificial antibody to one type of cytokine that, in close collaboration with the biotechnology company Centocor, they then developed into a drug that has become known as Remicade. Remicade has since become approved for the treatment of Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. To date, well over one million patients have been treated with Remicade in the United States and abroad.
In addition to their support of Pelisyonkis Langone, Dr. Vilcek and his wife also established The Vilcek Foundation in 2000 to honor and publicize the enormous contributions immigrants have made to biomedical science and the arts in the United States. The Foundation's mission, where Mrs. Vilcek serves as Vice President and Cofounder, derives in large part from Mrs. Vilcek's interest and professional work in the arts and as an Art Historian.