Chemistry Department Receives Corporate Gift

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UC Berkeley's Department of Chemistry has received its largest corporate gift ever from a New York-based health and personal care company, university officials said this week.

The $1 million grant, announced Aug. 30, comes from Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. The money will aid research and graduate training in synthetic organic chemistry, officials said.

The gift will be specifically directed to UC Berkeley's Center for New Directions in Organic Chemistry, said Robert Sanders, a university spokesperson. Bristol-Myers Squibb is the first sponsoring member of the center, although it has seven other members who contribute at a more modest level, he said.

Well-funded from the new money, the center will play a pivotal role in enhancing undergraduate training at UC Berkeley, said Paul Bartlett, the center's director and former chair of the chemistry department.

The center was founded last year and serves as a training ground for those pursuing careers in pharmacy or the chemical industry. It also helps students spend summers in industrial research laboratories, where they can gain experience in their future job field.

"It will provide more opportunities for students to interface with industrial research," he said. "The whole thrust of the center is to make research more relevant to jobs that (students) will be taking."

Bartlett added that the center and Bristol-Myers Squibb have a symbiotic relationship.

"(The company) is very interested in the quality of graduate training in the U.S., particularly in Berkeley, where they have had favorable interactions in the past," he said. "We are one of the premier departments where they recruit."

According to officials at the College of Chemistry, synthetic organic chemistry is a popular area of study for many college students.

"It is a very hot field right now," said Marlene Penuela-Mackouse, the college's associate director of development. "Many pharmaceutical companies are interested in students who are trained in this area."

According to Dr. Peter S. Ringrose, chief scientific officer and president of Bristol-Myers Squibb's Pharmaceutical Research Institute, the grant further strengthens the company's relationship with UC Berkeley.

"The grant reflects the company's continuing support of exemplary academic research in synthetic organic chemistry," he said in a statement.

Although the grant is a 5-year commitment, Bartlett said there is a possibility that it will be renewed at the end of the period.

"We can always hope so," he said with a chuckle.


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