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Funding life-saving science

Award-winning alumnus makes a transformational gift to support research and innovation in the Department of Life Sciences.

Scientist, pharmaceutical entrepreneur and inspiring alumnus, Professor Raymond F. Schinazi, has made a most generous £2 million donation to advance research and innovation in the University’s Department of Life Sciences.

The endowment has established the Raymond F. Schinazi and Family Chair of Life Sciences, with the Department’s Head, Professor Philip Ingham FRS (pictured above, left), becoming the first holder of the Professorial Chair.

Raymond has also generously donated to launch a new Life Sciences Innovation Fund, ‘Synergy Awards’, available for Bath academics and students to support projects that address global challenges, from antimicrobial resistance to biodiversity.

An outstanding education

Receiving early support led to a remarkable career for Raymond.

A smiling man in a suit standing outside on a bright autumn day.

Raymond was a refugee from Egypt in 1964 when he moved to England after winning a scholarship to sit his O and A-Levels, before joining Bath in 1968 where he completed an undergraduate degree and a PhD in chemistry.

He went on to have an outstanding academic career in the pharmaceutical sector, working as a pharmacologist and virologist while establishing multiple successful biotech companies in the United States.

Most notably, his work led to the development of several antiviral drugs effective against HIV. Today around 94% of HIV patients take one of the drugs he invented. He was also instrumental in the discovery and development of drugs for hepatitis B and a cure for hepatitis C.

These breakthroughs, and Raymond’s work in bringing these drugs to the market, have saved many lives and improved the quality of life for millions of patients worldwide. He continues to work actively as a leading scientist and entrepreneur based at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.

Raymond says:

“I came to the UK as an immigrant from Egypt to continue to benefit from a British education, and I’m very grateful to Britain for providing me with an outstanding education,” says Raymond. “It’s so important to support underprivileged, bright students, especially those who are immigrants, and give them an opportunity to study at Bath. Now it is my turn to give back and to make this world a better place.”

Life Sciences at Bath

Collaboration is key in this new University department.

A male and female scientist wearing University of Bath branded labcoats and safety goggles examine an electrical component in a lab

The Department of Life Sciences at the University of Bath was established in 2022 by merging the departments of Biology & Biochemistry, and Pharmacy & Pharmacology. This created a cross-disciplinary, collaborative department, bringing together expertise and greater opportunities to build partnerships with the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industrial sectors, as well as the NHS.

Professor Philip Ingham, Head of the Life Science Department, says:

“I’m delighted and very honoured to become the first Raymond F. Schinazi and Family Chair of Life Sciences. Raymond is a hugely inspiring figure whose pioneering work illustrates what the life sciences can achieve. We’re very grateful indeed for this gift, which will support our efforts to emulate his exciting and impactful work here at the University.”

Philip is a geneticist whose studies of fruit flies and zebra fish – which share over 70% of their genes with humans – have furthered our understanding of how embryos develop, as well as the genetic mutations that cause particular birth defects and cancers.

His pioneering work on cell signalling as a Principal Scientist at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now CRUK), led to the development of a treatment for basal cell carcinoma (BCC), one of the most common forms of cancer.

Before joining Bath in 2022, Philip worked in Singapore for many years where he was the founding Vice Dean for Research at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, a partnership between Imperial College London and Nanyang Technological University.

“The formation of the Department of Life Sciences presents tremendous opportunities for new interactions across a broad range of disciplines,” says Philip on what drew him to Bath. “It’s about people with different perspectives and areas of expertise working together to generate new ideas, and the Synergy Awards will enable them to go further and make a real difference.”

Raymond agrees that collaboration is key:

“There’s so much talent out there: it’s a matter of connecting brains and mingling with people outside your own discipline. It’s important to diversify your knowledge, to know what else there is out there, because that’s how the ideas will form.”

Giving back

Raymond reflected on his scientific breakthroughs in a public lecture.

Professor Raymond Schinazi stands at the front of a lecture theatre in front of a screen of PowerPoint slides

To mark his gift, the Bath alumnus and honorary graduate gave a public lecture on campus entitled: ‘The scientific advances making hepatitis elimination possible: translating science to cure’.

Raymond says:

“You don’t become a scientist because you want to be famous or rich. You do it because you are passionate about science. You try to find solutions to problems and sometimes – with a lot of hard work, intuition, study and experience – you develop something that cures a disease, for example. You get rewarded with fame but also monetarily, and then you can use that to do more research, and you can give more to charity. Giving back is so important.”

Interview with Professor Raymond F. Schinazi

The scientist, pharmaceutical entrepreneur and philanthropist looks back on his career

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