Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and her husband, John Shaw, have made donations worth USD 7.5 million to the University of Glasgow to contribute to expansion projects at the Scottish university.
John, a former alumnus of the university, said USD 5 million would be contributed to the Research Hub, currently under construction on the Western Infirmary site as part of the university’s 1-billion pounds campus development.
The new hub will see space on a floor dedicated to public engagement named as Shaw Plaza. A further donation of USD 2.5 million will go towards creating a new Professorial Chair to be named the Mazumdar-Shaw Chair of Precision Oncology.
“As a proud alumnus of the University of Glasgow, I have the good fortune of making a gift at a time when the university is embarking on a major expansion. Both Kiran and I have the proud privilege of being awarded honorary doctorates,” said John, the Vice-Chair of Biocon. “The success of our company, Biocon, has allowed us to be philanthropic. Research at Glasgow resonates very closely with Biocon’s principal interests in diabetes and cancer. Our gift therefore seeks to support research and precision oncology. The University of Glasgow has the potential to advance science to new levels and become a globally-recognised research hub,” he said.
Glasgow-born John’s career with Scotland-based textile firm Coats included management and financial positions across the world and led to him meeting his future wife, Kiran in Bangalore.
When they married in 1998, her firm Biocon was a pioneering biotech venture, and John took early retirement from Coats and helped his wife transform the company from a small company into a biotech giant, the university noted in a statement.
The University’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, described the donation from the couple as an act of “extraordinary generosity”. He said, “The Research Hub, currently under construction, will create a unique environment which will break down organisational silos to allow the collaboration across disciplines on which world changing research breakthroughs now depend.
“It will allow us to impact on many of the most pressing issues of our time including new treatments for chronic and infectious diseases and reducing poverty in the Global South.” Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, welcomed the support for a Chair of Precision Oncology.
“Scotland is a world-leader in Precision Medicine and this support for Precision Oncology – an important branch of Precision Medicine – comes at a time when we are making significant progress,” she said.
John completed his MA in History/Modern History with Politics in 1970 from the University of Glasgow. He credits his alma mater for enabling him to meet any challenge through his subsequent business career. “Building a business from scratch into a large enterprise takes courage, determination and endurance. Most importantly, it is a journey of risk management. Our message to young entrepreneurs and businessmen and women would be to pursue opportunities with a sense of purpose and a spirit of challenge. There are no guarantees or shortcuts to success,” he said in his message to future university alumni.