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College & Career

Carnegie Mellon receives $10M gift from alum who runs global tech company

Natasha Lindstrom
| Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, 3:39 p.m.
Alumni Denee Benton, Glen de Vries (center) and Luis von Ahn discuss founding lessons and disrupting fields during a panel at Carnegie Mellon University's 50th anniversary celebration in October 2017.
Alumni Denee Benton, Glen de Vries (center) and Luis von Ahn discuss founding lessons and disrupting fields during a panel at Carnegie Mellon University's 50th anniversary celebration in October 2017.

The co-founder of a global health care technology company says Carnegie Mellon University made such a profound impact on him two decades ago that he's giving his alma mater $10 million today.

Glen de Vries, a New York native and 1994 graduate of the Mellon College of Science, is co-founder and president of the New York-based firm Medidata , which specializes in improving clinical trials and medical research through its cloud-based platform and software.

The $10 million endowed deanship he's funding marks a "transformational gift" that will bolster CMU's teaching and research opportunities, expand interdisciplinary initiatives and help recruit top students and faculty, university officials announced Tuesday.

De Vries said in a statement that he considers it "an incredible privilege to support the university" thanks to the personal and professional guidance he gleaned there.

The school is creating the Glen de Vries Dean's Chair position in his honor.

Rebecca Doerge, who has served as dean of the Mellon College of Science since fall 2016, will be the first to fill the newly endowed deanship. Doerge, a former head of the department of statistics at Purdue University in Indiana, described de Vries as "quintessentially CMU" for combining expertise across multiple disciplines with an entrepreneurial spirit to solve problems.

"Glen has built an extraordinary career at the intersection of science, business and medicine, and his work has revolutionized how we conduct medical research," Mellon College of Science interim President Farnam Jahanian said in a statement.

After earning a bachelor's degree in molecular biology and genetics from CMU, de Vries worked as a research scientist at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and studied computer science at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematics.

In 1999, De Vries started Medidata with just two employees. The life sciences technology company has grown to about 2,000 employees in 14 locations worldwide and drawn increased attention from stock analysts in recent months.

Previously, de Vries contributed to CMU through endowing a presidential fellowship in biological sciences. He also has served on the university president's Global Advisory Council and returned to the campus in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood for guest lectures and visits. Most recently, he served as a panelist during CMU's 50th anniversary celebration and homecoming weekend in October.

As of last June, CMU's total endowment topped $1.7 billion . Endowed funds contributed about $68 million to university operations last year, or about 6 percent of the annual budget.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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