Posted January 28, 2014

Temple alumnus pledges $50,000 for STEM undergraduates

Photo by Bill Pollard
In order to help meet the growing need for STEM graduates, Robert Figlin, CLA ’70, CST ’72, has pledged $50,000 to establish two scholarships for undergraduate juniors and seniors majoring in chemistry, physics, math or computer and information sciences.

In February 2012, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology reported that in order for the U.S. to remain competitive in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), it would need to produce approximately 1 million more graduates in those areas over the next 10 years.

In order to help meet the growing need for STEM graduates, Robert Figlin,  CLA ’70, CST ’72, has pledged $50,000 to establish two scholarships for undergraduate juniors and seniors majoring in chemistry, physics, math or computer and information sciences.

“At heart, I’m a Philly boy,” said Figlin, now the Steven Spielberg Family Chair in Hematology Oncology and professor of medicine and biomechanical sciences in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He also is professor emeritus in medicine and urology in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “I commuted to Temple every day. I’m the first in my family to graduate college, to go to medical school, and I think there are many young men and women who have that same story.”

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and training in inorganic chemistry at Temple, Figlin earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania. He has become renowned for advancing urologic and lung cancer therapies, and was a scientific founder of Agensys, an early-stage biotechnology company that develops novel cancer therapeutics.

“I’ve built a large and successful scientific career, and that interest starts in one’s formative years,” Figlin said. “I want to support young people who are following a similar path, so they don't have to feel as if they’re doing it alone.”

At Temple, Figlin received support from Professor Emeritus Jeffrey Streiter, who Figlin described as his mentor. He says that type of guidance is vitally important for young researchers, as it fuels their interest in making discoveries in the lab.

“These students carry with them the opportunity for great advancements,” he said. “They will change how people live and what we do in our everyday lives. I want be sure that these young people are not prohibited from making those discoveries.”

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