Public Release: 

Penn Biomedical Graduate Studies program receives gift for scientists in training

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

(PHILADELPHIA) - The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has received a $2 million gift from the Blavatnik Family Foundation to establish the Blavatnik Family Fellowship in Biomedical Research in the Penn Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS) program. Headed by industrialist and philanthropist Len Blavatnik, the Blavatnik Family Foundation has a strong history of supporting talented young scientists at premier institutions around the globe.

The Blavatnik Family Fellowship will be competitively awarded to six Penn BGS students for each of the next four academic years. By 2021, the Blavatnik Family Fellowship will have impacted 24 students, all Blavatnik Family Fellows, by providing a crucial boost at the very moment these talented trainees are launching as independent investigators. The Fellowship ensures support for students during their work with their mentors, a pivotal relationship in their scientific journey.

"We are delighted to be able to partner with the Blavatnik Family Foundation in accelerating critical research by cultivating outstanding young minds at the beginning of their careers," said University President Amy Gutmann. "We are deeply grateful to Len Blavatnik and the Blavatnik Family Foundation for this visionary gift to Penn Biomedical Graduate Studies--one of the strongest training programs in the nation--and their support for the next generation of scientific thought leaders."

The inaugural class of Blavatnik Family Fellows was chosen in July 2018 from many nominees from the BGS program. The students selected are Divyansh Agarwal, Edward Chuang, Jinyang Li, Kamen Simeonov, Huchuan "Cedric" Xia, and Linda Zhou. They are focusing on research projects with translational implications across many disease areas, including: ocular diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, pancreatic cancer, cancer metastasis, psychiatric disorders; and trinucleotide repeat expansion disorders, such as Huntington's disease and Fragile X Syndrome.

J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine, explained the power and influence these students bring to their research labs: "Many of our students are playing key roles in advancing major breakthroughs here at Penn thanks to BGS's thoughtful, expert mentors, a world-class research infrastructure, and a culture of collaboration. With the generous support of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, our talented Blavatnik Family Fellows will be able to transform their scientific passions into discoveries that improve human health."

Len Blavatnik--a prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist--is the founder of Access Industries, a privately-held, global industrial group. "By establishing this landmark fellowship at Penn, we hope to empower talented students to pursue high-risk, high-reward projects in the lab," said Blavatnik. "This investment in our future will benefit cutting-edge science now and over time as these trainees grow and drive innovation in their respective fields." Blavatnik's forward-thinking philanthropy has made an impact in both the United States and abroad, enriching the research landscape and creating an elite community of creative and ambitious young scientists.


Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $7.8 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top medical schools in the United States for more than 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $405 million awarded in the 2017 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Medicine Princeton Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital - the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, a leading provider of highly skilled and compassionate behavioral healthcare.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2017, Penn Medicine provided $500 million to benefit our community.

About The Blavatnik Family Foundation

The Blavatnik Family Foundation is an active supporter of leading educational, scientific, cultural, and charitable institutions in the United States, Europe, and throughout the world. The Foundation is headed by Len Blavatnik, an American and British industrialist and philanthropist. Mr. Blavatnik is the founder and Chairman of Access Industries, a privately-held U.S. industrial group with global interests in natural resources, media, technology, and real estate. For more detailed information, please visit:

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