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Dr. Herbert Boyer Presents '50 Years from Now' at Dedication of Dupre Science Pavilion at SVC

Public Relations
Posted: Wednesday Jun 19, 2013

June 19, 2013

Dr. Herbert W. Boyer presented “Fifty Years from Now” as the main speaker at the dedication of the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion, the $39 million home of the Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computing at Saint Vincent.

Boyer is a native of Derry and graduate of Saint Vincent College who has received international recognition as a pioneer in the new scientific field of genetic engineering and as the co-founder of Genentech Inc., the San Francisco-based biotechnology company that develops medicines to treat patients with life-threatening medical conditions.

“Fifty years ago, I thought I could see the future,” Boyer said. “But that future came fast. Everything I predicted to happen in the next 50 years happened in 10.”

“I feel very lucky to have lived in a time when so much was learned about medicine, science and life – and to have participated in that,” he said.

“It’s been extremely gratifying,” he said shortly before delivering his address. “The thing that’s really neat is having friends who have children and grandchildren who have been treated with the medications. The wife of a best friend had a stroke and was successfully treated with Activase” – a drug Genentech developed to dissolve blood clots in stroke victims.”

“The last 50 years has seen an exponential expansion in biomedical science, and we stand on the brink of understanding far beyond what we knew then. But we are far from knowing everything.”

Boyer, one of Saint Vincent College’s most notable alumni, is a leader in the creation of the biotechnology industry and the founding of the pharmaceutical firm that utilized his DNA-splitting technology to develop numerous life-saving drugs. Boyer is professor emeritus of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California at San Francisco. He earned his bachelor of science degree in biology and chemistry in 1958 from Saint Vincent College. He credits his college professor, the late Fr. Joel Lieb, O.S.B., for inspiring his interest in genetic research. Boyer earned master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Pittsburgh.

He has received numerous prestigious awards for his work including the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1980, the National Medal of Science presented at the White House by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, the Lemelson-MIT Prize in 1996, the Albany Medical Prize in 2004 and the Shaw Prize in Life Sciences and Medicine in 2004 for discoveries related to DNA research. Boyer has also won the Medal of Technology, and he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2004, Business Week magazine named him one of the Greatest Innovators of the Past 75 Years and Parade Magazine named him one of the Ten Most Important Innovators Who Transformed the World. He was featured on the cover of TIME magazine in 1981 with a story titled, “Shaping Life in the Lab: The Boom in Genetic Engineering, Genentech's Herb Boyer.”

In 1989 Boyer and his wife, Grace, made a gift to Saint Vincent College that created student scholarships in memory of Mrs. Boyer's father, T.L. Hensler, and her brother, Timothy. These scholarships provide students with demonstrated academic and leadership potential the opportunity to attend Saint Vincent.

World-Class Science Facilities

The Sis and Herman Dupré Pavilion provides world-class science facilities where Saint Vincent students and faculty work together to meet the rapidly changing needs in the vast and highly competitive world of science by expanding its academic programs to encompass emerging fields such as biotechnology and bioinformatics. By providing students with the essential mathematical and computing skills required for scientific research in the world today, Saint Vincent is helping to secure our nation’s leadership in the sciences for generations to come.

A curved, three-story atrium serves as a window to the natural world and a welcoming gateway into the pavilion, reflecting the Benedictine tradition of hospitality. Included in the central core are numerous specialized laboratories, including a digital imaging laboratory. Other rooms are dedicated to chemical preparation, laboratory support, equipment and instruments.

The pavilion also includes laboratories for cell genetics, microbiology, biochemistry, astronomy, electronics, anatomy and general biology, chemistry and physics and specialized laboratories for research in biochemistry, physical chemistry and environmental science. Windows in the laboratories provide views of what is taking place inside so that students, visitors, teachers who come for training, and learners of all ages can observe science in action. Corridors are designed with display space for poster sessions or interactive exhibits, allowing Saint Vincent to showcase the research of students and faculty members throughout the year as well as at its annual Academic Conference.

Special features of the pavilion include the Angelo J. Taiani Planetarium and Astronaut Exhibit and the Dr. Frank Luparello Lecture Hall. The planetarium was made possible by a gift from the 1948 graduate and Latrobe native who enjoyed a successful career as an aerospace engineer with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The planetarium projector system was constructed by the Spitz Corporation, a leader in planetarium technology. The planetarium features the latest digital technology that can not only project the nighttime sky but can also take viewers on a tour of the solar system. The lecture hall is a handsome venue for presentations of all kinds with comprehensive multimedia capabilities.

LEED Gold Certification

In keeping with the Benedictine tenet of stewardship, or caring for the earth, The Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion incorporates sustainable design. The project was awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification through improvements to the quality of the site, reductions in water and energy consumption, use of materials that reduced the impact on the environment and providing a healthy and safe place for faculty members and students to work.

An interesting aspect of the pavilion is the custom-designed geothermal heating and cooling system which provides environmentally comfortable and responsible energy efficiencies. The system utilizes a series of 283 geothermal wells in a field 100 yards behind the pavilion to provide natural heating and cooling. The geothermal system is capable of pumping 1,800 gallons per minute and recovering approximately 9 million BTU per hour from the earth.

Other aspects of the system add to the savings such as pumps and fans which are able to run at variable speeds depending on need, and an energy recovery system which captures heat from the air that is being exhausted from the building. The building also employs many other energy-saving devices such as occupancy sensors that automatically turn lights on and off, water conserving plumbing fixtures in the restrooms and supplemental solar power panels that generate electricity from sunshine. The extensive use of glass in the atrium provides energy savings by utilizing the sun to provide heat and natural light.

The structure was designed by the architects at MacLachlan, Cornelius and Filoni Inc. of Pittsburgh, and the laboratories were designed by Research Facilities Design Laboratory Consultants of San Diego. General contractor was Jendoco of Pittsburgh.

The Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion encompasses 60,000 square feet of new construction and 50,000 square feet of renovated space.

Demanding Academic Curriculum

In addition to the state-of-the-art science facilities, the Boyer School is distinguished by its demanding academic curriculum, excellent faculty, interdisciplinary scientific collaboration and a comprehensive premier program in the humanities.

Inspired by the cutting-edge scientific discoveries of world-renowned alumnus, Dr. Herbert Boyer, the Boyer School is an essential part of Saint Vincent’s strategic plans for growth and development. More than 30 percent of all degree-seeking students are currently enrolled in the five academic departments coordinated by the school (biology, chemistry, computing and information science, mathematics and physics). In 2013, the Boyer School will also initiate a fully-accredited doctoral program in nurse anesthesia practice.

According to post-graduate survey data, 44 percent of Boyer School majors enroll in graduate or health-related professional programs within one year of graduation. An additional 50 percent of Boyer School graduates attain employment in the field of science within one year of graduation. These include research positions at Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Pittsburgh’s Hillman Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute, as well as teaching positions at local educational institutions.

Saint Vincent’s average acceptance rate for health-related professional schools is 81 percent. Recent placements include Georgetown School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Jefferson Medical College, LECOM, Commonwealth Medical College, Pennsylvania College of Optometry and many others.

Senior chemistry students present their research projects at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society. Students also present their research results at the annual meeting of the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research.

The A.J. Palumbo Student Research Endowment Fund supports research by students in the Boyer School.

Dedication Program Recognizes Donors

The Rev. Paul R. Taylor, O.S.B., executive vice president of Saint Vincent College, served as master of ceremonies for the 4 p.m. program which included a welcome by Br. Norman W. Hipps, O.S.B., president of Saint Vincent College; words of gratitude by J. Christopher Donahue, chairman of the Saint Vincent College board of directors; and dedication prayer and blessing by the Rt. Rev. Douglas R. Nowicki, O.S.B., archabbot of Saint Vincent Archabbey and chancellor of Saint Vincent College. A reception and tours of the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion which was completed in December followed the program.

The dedication program also included the singing of the national anthem by the Saint Vincent College Singers directed by Thomas Octave.

In conjunction with the dedication, it was announced that the $39 million Shaping the Future fundraising campaign had been successfully completed and exceeded.

Nearly a thousand donors were recognized for their contributions including the family and friends of Sis and Herman Dupré, Richard King Mellon Foundation, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Dr. and Mrs. Herbert W. Boyer, J. Christopher and Ann Donahue, The Dunlap Family and CentiMark Corporation, Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund, Eden Hall Foundation, Evelyn and Batista Madonia Sr., Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation Inc., Betty and Glen C. Tenley, Thomas J. and Sandra L. Usher Charitable Foudation, Ronald J. Lieb, D.D.S., Jim and Mary Ellen Will, Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, Donald and Mary Haile, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph H. Liberatore, Dr. John R. and Rosemary Mazero, Joseph P. Rich, Angelo J. Taiani and the Benedictine Monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey.

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Photo: Dr. Herbert W. Boyer 

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PR2013-378