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Richard and Helen DeVos

Supporting the Next Generation of Biomedical Researchers

In 1959, Rich DeVos and his high school friend and fellow World War II veteran Jay Van Andel formed Amway, which today is one of the largest privately held companies in America.  Known for being champions of free enterprise, Rich and his wife, Helen, are also among the foremost philanthropists in the United States.  Numerous organizations have been touched by their generosity, including Scripps Research.

Rich and Helen, through their foundation, recently donated $1.25 million to Scripps Research to expand the graduate school program at Scripps Florida.  The program, part of Scripps Research’s Kellogg School of Science and Technology, offers a doctoral program with an emphasis on chemistry, chemical biology, biophysics, or the biological sciences.

 “We have watched Scripps Florida grow from a single idea to a high-tech center for world-class biomedical research, right here in Jupiter,” said Rich. “We hope our gift will help Scripps Florida keep attracting the best young scholars to its graduate program.”

As the owner of the Orlando Magic NBA basketball team, Rich has a special interest in the state of Florida.  The DeVoses were early supporters of the vision of then-governor Jeb Bush to develop a thriving biotechnology industry in the state.

Scripps Research’s commitment to improving human health through advanced biomedical research, its entrepreneurial approach to research, and its culture of innovation made it a natural partner for the DeVoses charitable giving and their philosophy of helping individuals fulfill their potential so they can contribute to society.

Out of a total of 24 students currently enrolled in the Scripps Florida graduate program, half a dozen have a connection to Florida.  So far, four students have completed their Ph.D. degrees on the Florida campus. The entire institute’s graduate program encompasses approximately 200 Ph.D. candidates on both the California and Florida campuses.

 “The level of excellence and accomplishment of our Scripps Florida graduate students is exceptional,” said William R. Roush, associate dean for the Scripps Florida graduate program, as well as professor of chemistry and executive director of Medicinal Chemistry at Scripps Florida.  “The DeVos contribution will help us continue to identify and recruit top notch candidates, especially those who come from Florida.”

 The quality of the Scripps Research graduate program has been widely recognized by independent sources.  For one, U.S. News & World Report, which periodically reviews the nation’s colleges, has ranked The Scripps Research Institute among the best graduate schools in the country.  The graduate program is provided at no cost to the students, who are given a stipend to cover living and other expenses.

Rich, who serves on the Scripps Florida Council, is also especially fascinated with the work of Ron Davis, chair of the Scripps Florida Neuroscience Department, who uses fruit flies to study neurological diseases.

“We cannot begin to thank Rich and Helen enough for their gift and Rich’s service on the Scripps Florida Council,” said Alex Dreyfoos, Scripps Research trustee.  “The investment will serve to further life changing research, and inspire students in their scientific studies.”

Natives of the Grand Rapids area, Rich and Helen have transformed the quality of life in that region, in Florida, and beyond through their time, philanthropy, and the impact of fifty years of economic development driven by Amway’s remarkable success.

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“We have watched Scripps Florida grow from a single idea to a high-tech center for world-class biomedical research, right here in Jupiter,” says Richard DeVos, pictured here with his wife and fellow philanthropist, Helen DeVos.