Powells commit $8 million to professorships in chemistry

The Powell Family
The Powell Family (from left:) Landis, Mike and Tana.

Mike and Tana Powell, who have been actively engaged at Washington University in St. Louis since their daughter Landis enrolled in the Arts & Sciences Class of 2016, have committed $8 million to match gifts for endowed professorships in the Department of Chemistry and other critical disciplines.

“The Powells’ visionary support for new professorships in chemistry and related fields holds extraordinary potential for future impact in science and technology,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said.

Recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty members — including both distinguished scientists and dynamic young researchers — is a key priority of Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University, and endowed professorships are essential to this effort.

“We are profoundly grateful to the Powells for their generous commitment,” Wrighton said. “Their leadership and vision ensure future discoveries that will benefit our nation and our world.”

The Powells’ gift helps support Driving Discovery, an ambitious multiphase project at Washington University that will transform science teaching, research, faculty and facilities in Arts & Sciences.

The Powells also have given generously of their time to the university, first as co-chairs of the 2013-14 Parents Annual Fund and then as co-chairs of the Parents Council. Elected to the university’s Board of Trustees in 2014, Mike is a member of the board’s Research-Graduate Affairs and Educational Policy committees.

He is managing general partner of Sofinnova Ventures, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical venture capital firm. Since he joined Sofinnova Ventures in 1997, the venture capital group has built dozens of biotech companies, many of which have become leaders in oncology, neurology and other fields developing life-saving drugs.

Mike earned a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Toronto and completed post-doctorate work in bio-organic chemistry at the University of California. He has been involved with over 50 clinical products; authored 90 publications and books, including a 1,000–page treatise on vaccine design; and holds several patents.

Tana earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in printmaking from York University in Toronto and did postgraduate studies in printmaking at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a graphic designer and artist and has served as art director for the Oakland Tribune and design director for the San Diego City Magazine. She now has illustration studios in San Francisco and Nevada.

Landis earned a bachelor’s degree in earth and planetary sciences with a focus in geochemistry at Commencement May 20.

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